Cutting back on fats, sugar might protect against Alzheimer’s

Consumer Reports News: June 13, 2011 04:09 PM

Following a diet that’s low in saturated fat and quickly digested carbohydrates, such as doughnuts and white bread, could cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, suggests a study published today in the June issue of the journal Archives of Neurology.

Researchers fed 20 healthy adults either a diet that had a high glycemic index and lots of saturated fat or a low glycemic index and little saturated fat for four weeks. They then gave the participants a memory test. Those who ate the low-fat, low-glycemic-index diet performed better on the memory test, and also had lower blood levels of certain markers of Alzheimer’s disease. A similar experiment in 29 adults who already had some signs of cognitive showed similar, though not quite as impressive, results.

While this study is quite small and relatively short, it's not the first to look at the effects of diet on cognition. Earlier research has shown the Mediterranean way of eating can lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. And numerous studies suggest that fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and other foods might help preserve mental agility by protecting blood vessels and promoting regeneration of nerve cells.

Bottom line: Eat good-for-you foods now. Aim for at least five servings of produce a day, including some leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Keep trans and saturated fats, which could hasten brain aging, to a minimum, and get healthful fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

For more information, see our guide to fats in food and our advice on how to eat healthfully.

Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment [Archives of Neurology]

Ginger Skinner

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