For Older Women, Saturated Fats Linked to Worse Cognition

Higher intake of monounsaturated fats linked to improved cognition, verbal memory trajectories

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- For older women, higher saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake correlates with worse global cognition and verbal memory trajectories, while higher intake of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) correlates with improved trajectories, according to a study published online May 17 in the Annals of Neurology.

Olivia I. Okereke, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective, community-based study among 6,183 older participants from the Women's Health Study to evaluate how dietary fat types relate to cognitive changes over time. SFA, MUFA, total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and trans-unsaturated fat intake were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Five years after dietary assessment, serial cognitive function evaluation was conducted over four years.

The researchers found that PUFA, total fat, and trans-fat intake were not associated with cognitive changes. Higher intake of SFA was linked to significantly worse global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories. Comparing the highest with the lowest SFA quintiles, there was a higher risk of worst cognitive change, with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 1.64 for global cognition and 1.65 for verbal memory. Higher intake of MUFA correlated with significantly better global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories, and with a lower likelihood of worse cognitive change in both global cognition (odds ratio, 0.52) and verbal memory (odds ratio, 0.56).

"Decreasing SFA and increasing MUFA merit further consideration in promoting healthy cognitive aging, and dietary patterns that incorporate higher intake of good fats (e.g., the Mediterranean diet) should be further addressed in cognitive aging research," the authors write.

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