Junk foods, like sweet pastries and margarine, are tasty, but not healthy. They come up with their own side effects, suggested a study. The research stated that people who include a lot of junk foods in their daily diet are more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's Disease when they get older.

The research, titled "Serum Elaidic Acid Concentration and Risk of Dementia" was published in Neurology. Junk foods are rich in industrial trans fat, also known as trans unsaturated fatty acids. 

Industrial trans fats are artificially processed by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make them solid. They are widely used by the food industry to make food tastier, cheaper and long-lasting. A small proportion of trans fats are naturally found in certain dairy and meat products. The harm lies in unsaturated fat found in processed and fried food, including non-dairy products, caramels, cake, candies, ice creams, and the list goes on.

Higher levels of trans fat in a person's blood can increase the individual's chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer's later in life by 50 to 75 percent, noted the study.

Alzheimer's disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Nearly 50 million people across the globe are living with this chronic illness. But only one in four people are diagnosed with this disease.

For the study, the research team observed a total of 1,628 Japanese adults aged 60 and above for 10 years.  At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had dementia. So, the research team measured the serum elaidic acid levels of each of the participants.

The participants were then divided into four groups depending on the industrial trans fat levels in their blood.  The research team then gave a questionnaire to the participants to learn about their eating habits.

During the study, the research team found a great association between consumption of industrialized trans fat and risk of dementia. At the end of the follow-up period, a total of 377 people were diagnosed with some form of dementia.

The study looked into various other factors that could increase the risk of dementia, like smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure. After the analysis, they found that people with higher levels of trans fat in their blood have a 52 to 74 percent increased risk of developing dementia.

"These results give us even more reason to avoid trans fats," lead researcher Toshiharu Ninomiya of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan said in a statement.

"The World Health Organization has called for trans fats to be eliminated worldwide by 2023," the researcher added. "These public health efforts have the potential to help prevent dementia cases around the world, not to mention the decrease in heart disease and other conditions related to trans fats."

A limitation of the study is that the participants belonged to the same region and the result cannot be generalized to other populations.

Alzheimers 1 in 10 people aged 65 and over are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. Statistics show that the number of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s could potentially triple in number by 2050. Photo: Alain / Flickr