With fat: What's good or bad for the heart, may be the same for the brain

May 18, 2012

It has been known for years that eating too many foods containing "bad" fats, such as saturated fats or trans fats, isn't healthy for your heart. However, according to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), one "bad" fat—saturated fat—was found to be associated with worse overall cognitive function and memory in women over time. By contrast, a "good" fat—mono-unsaturated fat was associated with better overall cognitive function and memory.

This study is published online by Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, on May 18, 2012.

The research team analyzed data from the Women's Health Study—originally a cohort of nearly 40,000 women, 45 years and older. The researchers focused on data from a subset of 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. These women filled out very detailed food frequency surveys at the start of the Women's Health Study, prior to the cognitive testing.

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

Women who consumed the highest amounts of , which can come from animal fats such as red meat and butter, compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts, had worse overall cognition and memory over the four years of testing. who ate the most of the monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil, had better patterns of cognitive scores over time.

"Our findings have significant public health implications," said 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."

Okereke notes that strategies to prevent cognitive decline in older people are particularly important. Even subtle declines in can lead to higher risk of developing more serious problems, like dementia and Alzheimer disease.

Explore further: Aspirin may counteract potential trans fat-related stroke risk in older women

Related Stories

High animal fat diet increases gestational diabetes risk

January 25, 2012

Women who consumed a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol before pregnancy were at higher risk for gestational diabetes than women whose diets were lower in animal fat and cholesterol, according to researchers at the National ...

Recommended for you

A turbo engine for tracing neurons

April 27, 2017

Putting a turbo engine into an old car gives it an entirely new life—suddenly it can go further, faster. That same idea is now being applied to neuroscience, with a software wrapper that can be used on existing neuron tracing ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 20, 2012
What slot does 'Coconut Oil' fill as a brain healthy/unhealthy Fat?
I have been using Coconut Oil as Butter on my toast, even frying eggs with Coconut Oil ... very slight Coconut flavor. Coconut flavor is quite desirable!
1 / 5 (1) May 20, 2012
Wouldn't have too much, some info here:-

You could probably ameliorate with taking omega-3 capsules.
Incidentally, improving your copper organic complexes improves the availability and mobility of the 200 or so enzymes that compete just for copper, many are involved with fat/cholesterol matabolisation... (Copper found in liver, nuts, some mushrooms, kiwi fruit etc but depends on soil and wealth of market gardeners !)

You might want to consider using macadamia oil instead or part mix etc As it looks a lot safer long term.

not rated yet May 21, 2012
What slot does 'Coconut Oil' fill as a brain healthy/unhealthy Fat?


it prevents and cures alzheimer's
1 / 5 (1) May 21, 2012
dru made a wild claim but like many offered nothing useful
it prevents and cures alzheimer's
Having been on a major alzheimers forum for more than a couple of years here:-
and having access to Pub-med and Science Direct peer reviewed journals I see your claim as flippant, unresearched, susceptible to propaganda and not particularly mature without any supporting documentation. Get on with it man, spit it out ?

There is even an article on this forum which implicates low copper as having a role, nothing about the saturated fats in coconut oil as retarding or even 'preventing' the condition.

What is the claimed mechanism that ameliorates AB-42 from forming plaques and affecting the tau proteins ?

I look forward to you (dru) being rather more technical, precise and professional of the character that this forum expects and following up an initially time wasting bark with something actually useful please.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.