Despite some hints that fat intake may affect the risk of dementia, a new Dutch study has failed to show a link between fats--both the "good" and "bad" types--and mental decline.
But the its authors say it would be "premature" to conclude that cholesterol and fats that affect cholesterol are not related to the risk of dementia.
Several pieces of evidence suggest that fat and cholesterol may influence the risk Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia.
Animal studies have shown that a high-cholesterol diet increases the build-up of Alzheimer’s-related brain proteins. In addition, some evidence suggests that cholesterol-lowering medications may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
Also, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) has been shown to battle inflammation. Since inflammation may increase the risk of dementia, these fatty acids, which are found in fish and fish oils, could conceivably cut dementia risk.
Despite these suggestions of a relationship, the current study of more than 5,000 people published in the journal Neurology did not find a link between fat intake and dementia risk.
In the six-year study, which followed elderly participants who did not have dementia, people who ate high levels of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol were not more likely to develop dementia than people who ate less fat.
Similarly, people who ate low levels of the type of fatty acids found in fish were not more likely to develop Alzheimer disease or other types of dementia.
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