You can probably blame it on the famous Sesame Street character Cookie Monster, but cookies and biscuits are kids’ favourite snack.
However, these sweet treats as well as other baked goodies could be actually messing with our emotions. A study conducted by researchers at the San Diego State University revealed that trans fatty acids commonly found in those products can alter the way we think.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Health Psychology, observed 5,000 people who ingested trans fatty acids and examined its effect on several aspects of their emotions .
Their findings revealed that people who consumed more trans fatty acids had less control and awareness of their emotions. On the other hand, they were able to regulate their mood better when they ate less trans fatty acids.
According to the study’s author and dietician Megan Holt, the link between mental health and trans fatty acids has not been well established in the past. Holt hopes that their research would raise more awareness on how our emotions can be influenced by our diets.
“We need to consider that poor nutrition also has implications in terms of psychological wellness. Striving to avoid or limit dietary sources of trans fatty acids would certainly be a good start,” Holt explained.
Aside from affecting our emotional health, the consumption of trans fatty acids can also lead to higher bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good cholesterol levels (HDL). Thus, the risks for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes type II are also increased.
A previous study has linked trans fatty acid consumption to higher aggression.
“We found that greater trans fatty acids were significantly associated with greater aggression, and were more consistently predictive of aggression and irritability, across the measures tested, than the other known aggression predictors that were assessed,” said Dr. Beatrice Golomb, the lead researcher of the study.
Golomb discourages the consumption of trans fatty acids in schools and prisons.