Diet rich in saturated fats is associated with worse global cognitive and verbal memory

A study was undertaken to relate dietary fat types to cognitive change in healthy community-based elders.  The results showed that diet rich in saturated fats (SFA) is associated with worse global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories, whereas higher Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) intake was related to better trajectories. ANN NEUROL 2012. May 17, 2012

Sources

Monounsaturated fats, or omega-9 fatty acids, are heart healthy. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you keep your total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of daily calories, with the majority of fats consumed coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Foods rich in monounsaturated fats include nuts, oils, fish and other plant foods.

Vegetable Oils and Nuts

Many vegetable oils are rich in monounsaturated fats (also known as oleic acid). Those that offer the highest monounsaturated fatty acid content include high-oleic sunflower or safflower oil, as well as hazelnut, olive, canola, avocado, almond, peanut, corn, sesame, rice bran, soybean and cod liver oils. Soft tub margarine-like spreads made mostly from olive or canola oils are also rich in monounsaturated fats. Hazelnuts (or filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios and cashews are rich food sources of monounsaturated fats. Thus, cashew and almond butter are also rich in this heart-healthy fat.

Study

Among 6,183 older participants in the Women’s Health Study, we related intake of major fatty acids (saturated [SFA], monounsaturated [MUFA], total polyunsaturated [PUFA], trans-unsaturated) to late-life cognitive trajectory. Serial cognitive testing, conducted over 4 years, began 5 years after dietary assessment. Primary outcomes were global cognition (averaging tests of general cognition, verbal memory, and semantic fluency) and verbal memory (averaging tests of recall). We used analyses of response profiles and logistic regression to estimate multivariate-adjusted differences in cognitive trajectory and risk of worst cognitive change (worst 10%) by fat intake.

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