Dietary fat intake, particularly in the form of saturated and trans fat leads to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia according to recent evidence.
In February 2003, a study was published in the journal Archives of Neurology that linked the consumption of both saturated and trans fats with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study involved 815 individuals aged 65 and older who were followed for an average of four years.
After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, race, and education, the researchers reported that trans fat intake of more than 4.8g per day was associated with a 150% increase in Alzheimer’s disease risk compared to those who consumed 1.8g per day or less. Saturated fat intake of more than 25g per day was associated with a 120% increase in Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who consumed 13g or less of saturated fat a day.
Both poly-unsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats appeared to have a small preventative effect on Alzheimer’s disease although the effect was not statistically significant.
A study published in the journal Annals of Neurology found similar results. That study found that high intake of saturated fat increased Alzheimer’s risk by 90% and also linked a high intake of dietary cholesterol with a 70% increase in Alzheimer’s risk.
Animal studies have found that rats fed diets high in fat and cholesterol exhibited impaired learning and memory performance and had more beta-amyloid deposits in their brains. Studies in humans have found a link between high cholesterol levels and greater Alzheimer’s disease risk. Saturated fats are known to increase blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol.
Trans-fats are uncommon in fresh foods \but are commonly found in foods such as biscuits, pies, potato chips, salad dressings, and margarines which contain high amounts of hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Food products high in saturated fat include cream, whole milk, butter, cheese, fatty meats, chocolate, and coconut oil.
Most doctors recommend that less than 30% of an individuals daily calorie intake should come from fats and in particular no more than 10% from saturated fat This equates to less than 60g of total fat and 20g of saturated fat a day for a person who consumes 1800 calories a day.
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