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Good fats good for brain health too


A diet low in bad fats like saturated or trans fats is good for heart health. Now researchers believe that this diet may also be good for brain health.

A new study shows that saturated fat is associated with worse overall cognitive function and memory in women. A good fat diet, one containing mono-unsaturated fat, is associated with better overall cognitive function and memory.

The research team used data from the Women’s Health Study, originally a cohort of nearly 40,000 women aged 45 and older. They specifically identified a subset of 6,000 women aged over 65. They participated in three cognitive function tests spaced out every two years. They also filled out diaries showing their food intake.

“When looking at changes in cognitive function, what we found is that the total amount of fat intake did not really matter but the type of fat did,” said Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, BWH Department of Psychiatry.

Those with high fat diets performed poorly

Women who ate the most saturated fat, usually from red meat and butter, had worse overall cognition and memory over the four years of testing. The opposite was true for women who ate the most monounsaturated fats, as in olive oil. They had better patterns of cognitive scores over the same number of years.

“Our findings have significant public health implications,” explained Okereke. “Substituting in the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory.” These easy to implement strategies are important for decreasing one’s chances of developing more serious problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, ScienceDaily

Photo by John Nyboer

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