Red Meat and Butter Linked to Negative Cognitive Effects

by Vanessa Douglas on May 23, 2012

It is widely known that a diet high in fats can be harmful to our health. With recent reports on obesity and diabetes and the effects of sugar, it is no surprise that a new study in the Annals of Neurology has surfaced detailing the detrimental effects of saturated fats on the brain.

According to a report by Time, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a study on 6,000 women over the age of 65 over the course of four years. At the start of the study, the women were asked to fill out a questionnaire that detailed their eating habits. Researchers then selected women to perform a series of “cognitive-function tests”, which were conducted every two years.

They found that women who consumed the largest amounts of saturated fats, which can be found in animal products like red meat and butter, had the poorest overall performance on the test during the four-year span. On the other hand, women who consumed monounsaturated fats, found in various plant-based sources nuts, olives, and avocados, “had better cognition and memory in that same time period.”

Dr. Olivia Okereke, part of the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry and author of the study, stated that the focus of the study was not fat consumption, but rather, the kinds of fats that individuals are eating. “Cardiovascular health is also associated with brain aging, so we wanted to look at how this relationship and these fats influence cognitive function,” she stated.
Okereke believes that the varying fats influence the levels of inflammation in the body, which affect cardiovascular health and “may translate into differences in cognitive aging.” She suggests that individuals should replace saturated fats with their monounsaturated counterparts in an effort to be more conscious about cognitive health.

Vanessa Douglas

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