A Big Mac has 10 grams of saturated fats and 600 calories.
A large order of fast-food french fries has 3.5 grams of saturated fats and 500 calories.
Six chicken nuggets have 3.0 grams of saturated fats and 280 calories.
Not only will these choices add to the girth of our muffin tops, bellies and butts, they’ll also clog our arteries—and, as we age, contribute to the decline of our being able to remember why they’re bad choices in the first place.
A new study of 6,183 older women participants from the Women’s Health Study (WHS) shows that consuming saturated fats may contribute to decline in cognition and memory, whereas monounsaturated fats could protect the brain.
“When looking at changes in cognitive function, what we found is that the total amount of fat intake did not really matter, but the type of fat did,” explained lead study author, Olivia I Okereke, an MD from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“These findings have significant public-health implications, since substituting the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory.”
Okereke and her team focused on a subset of the WHS made up of women older than 65. The women completed food questionnaires at the start of the study and were tested for verbal memory and overall cognitive function.
Participants were retested for mental abilities twice more over four years.
Those who ate the most saturated fat scored lower on tests of cognitive ability than did those consuming the least saturated fat and were 65% more likely to decline in mental ability over time.
Consumption of polyunsaturated fat, of total fat or of trans fats was not associated with cognitive change in any direction.
Tammy Scott, PhD, a scientist at Tufts HNRCA Nutrition and Neurocognition Laboratory, recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats. “There is a lot of evidence that consumption of unsaturated fat, as opposed to saturated fat, is better for both your heart and brain.”
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Update, September 2012 Study published in Annals of Neurology