A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found a link between saturated fats and declines in memory and overall cognitive function.
The study also found that monounsaturated fat was associated with better overall cognitive function and memory.
The research team analyzed data from the Women’s Health Study, which included nearly 40,000 women who were 45 years and older. The researchers focused on data from 6,000 women, all over the age of 65. The women participated in three cognitive function tests, which were spaced out every two years for an average testing span of four years. The women also filled out very detailed food frequency surveys at the start of the Women’s Health Study, before the cognitive testing began.
“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, M.D., M.S., BWH Department of Psychiatry.
Women who consumed the highest amounts of saturated fat, which can come from animal fats such as red meat and butter, had worse overall cognition and memory over the four years of testing. Women who ate the most of the monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil, had better patterns of cognitive scores over time.
Okereke notes that strategies to prevent cognitive decline in older people are particularly important. Even subtle declines in cognitive functioning can lead to higher risk of developing more serious problems, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, she noted.
This study is published online by Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.
Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital