Dietary Fat Types And 4-Year Cognitive Change In Community-Dwelling Older Women, Annals of Neurology, July 2012
Methods: Among 6,183 older participants in the Women’s Health Study, we related intake of major fatty acids to late-life cognitive trajectory.
Results: Higher saturated fatty acid [SFA] intake was associated with worse global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories. There was a higher risk of worst cognitive change, comparing highest vs. lowest SFA quintiles: the multivariable-adjusted odds ratio was 1.64 (1.04, 2.58) for global cognition and 1.65 (1.04, 2.61) for verbal memory.
Interpretation: Higher SFA intake was associated with worse global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories.
Those who ate the most vs. the least saturated fat had the most cognitive decline: 60 to 70% greater odds of worse change in memory and other brain functions. The researchers said this difference was equivalent to about 6 years of aging.
As you would expect from Harvard, and given the large study population, there was a lengthy list of factors adjusted for, including one I immediately thought might confound: protein. Saturated fat is found mostly in animal food, and animal food is typically high in protein. But regardless of the amount of protein these women ate, their saturated fat intake still predicted their cognitive decline.
It’s unconscionable to me that industries, e.g meat and dairy, continue to push their high-saturated-fat foods onto an unsuspecting public in light of these studies.
Here’s another study from 2016. Same finding. Study #2: Saturated Fat Intake Is Associated With Poorer Memory