Monounsaturated, Trans, and Saturated Fatty Acids and Cognitive Decline in Women

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Impact Factor: 4.57). 05/2011; 59(5):837-43. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03402.x
Source: PubMed


To prospectively assess effects of select dietary fats on cognitive decline.
Prospective observational; 3-year follow-up.
Northwestern University.
Four hundred eighty-two women aged 60 and older who participated in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study or in the control group of the WHI Diet Modification arm.
Dietary intake from a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) administered twice (mean 2.7 years apart) before baseline cognitive assessment (mean 2.9 years after second FFQ) was averaged. Testing of memory, vision, executive function, language, and attention was performed twice, 3 years apart. A global Z-score was created for both time points by averaging all Z-scores for each participant, and global cognitive change was defined as the difference between follow-up and baseline Z-scores.
Median intake of saturated fat (SFA), trans-fat, (TFA), dietary cholesterol (DC), and monounsaturated fat (MUFA) was 18.53, 3.45, 0.201, and 19.39 g/d, respectively. There were no associations between degree of cognitive decline and intake of SFA (P=.69), TFA (P=.54), or DC (P=.64) after adjusting for baseline cognition, total energy intake, age, education, reading ability, apolipoprotein E ɛ4 allele, body mass index, estrogen and beta-blocker use, and intake of caffeine and other fatty acids. In contrast, MUFA intake was associated with lower cognitive decline in fully adjusted linear regression models, with mean decline (standard error) of 0.21 (0.05) in the lowest and 0.05 (0.05) in the highest quartiles (P=.02). This effect of MUFA intake was primarily in the visual and memory domains (P=.03 for both).
Greater intake of SFA, TFA, and DC was not associated with cognitive decline, whereas greater MUFA intake was associated with less cognitive decline.

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Available from: Asghar Z Naqvi
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    • "MCI was the subject of 4 prospective studies taking place in Australia, Finland, Italy, and the US (Cherbuin and Anstey, 2012; Eskelinen et al., 2008; Roberts et al., 2012; Solfrizzi et al., 2006a). Cognitive decline was the subject of 4 prospective studies, which took place in Italy and the US (Morris et al., 2004; Naqvi et al., 2011; Okereke et al., Table 1 Summary of prospective studies on saturated and trans fat intake and incident Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive disorders of later life are potentially devastating. To estimate the relationship between saturated and trans fat intake and risk of cognitive disorders. PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched for studies reporting saturated or trans fat intake and incident dementia, Alzheimer's disease (AD), or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or cognitive decline. Only observational studies met the inclusion criteria: 4 for AD or other dementias, 4 for MCI, and 4 for cognitive decline. Saturated fat intake was positively associated with AD risk in 3 of 4 studies, whereas the fourth suggested an inverse relationship. Saturated fat intake was also positively associated with total dementia in 1 of 2 studies, with MCI in 1 of 4 studies, and with cognitive decline in 2 of 4 studies. Relationships between trans fat intake and dementia were examined in 3 reports with mixed results. Several, although not all, prospective studies indicate relationships between saturated and trans fat intake and risk of cognitive disorders.
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    • "Of course, there are several observational studies, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, that support positive rather than negative associations between MUFA and cognitive function (Solfrizzi et al., 2006; Naqvi et al., 2011; Okereke et al., 2012). Moreover, enhanced MUFA intake was found to be associated with better cognition in a randomized controlled trial (Martinez-Lapiscina et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: High intakes of fat have been linked to greater cognitive decline in old age, but such associations may already occur in younger adults. We tested memory and learning in 38 women (25-45 years old), recruited for a larger observational study in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. These women varied in health status, though not significantly between cases (n=23) and controls (n=15). Performance on tests sensitive to medial temporal lobe function (CANTABeclipse, Cambridge Cognition Ltd.), i.e. verbal memory, visuo-spatial learning and delayed pattern matching, were compared with intakes of macronutrients from 7-day diet diaries and physiological indices of metabolic syndrome. Partial correlations were adjusted for age, activity and verbal IQ (National Adult Reading Test). Greater intakes of saturated and trans fats, and higher saturated to unsaturated fat ratio (Sat:UFA), were associated with more errors on the visuo-spatial task and with poorer word recall and recognition. Unexpectedly, higher UFA intake predicted poorer performance on the word recall and recognition measures. Fasting insulin was positively correlated with poorer word recognition only, whereas higher blood total cholesterol was associated only with visuo-spatial learning errors. None of these variables predicted performance on a delayed pattern matching test. The significant nutrient-cognition relationships were tested for mediation by total energy intake: saturated and trans fat intakes, and Sat:UFA, remained significant predictors specifically of visuo-spatial learning errors, whereas total fat and UFA intakes now predicted only poorer word recall. Examination of associations separately for mono- (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats suggested that only MUFA intake was predictive of poorer word recall. Saturated and trans fats, and fasting insulin, may already be associated with cognitive deficits in younger women. The findings need extending but may have important implications for public health.
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    • "In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that MUFA, and oleic acid in particular, may also have anti-inflammatory effects (Galland, 2010). Recent longitudinal studies support the hypothesis that MUFA may play a protective role toward the development of cognitive decline and dementia (Naqvi et al., 2011; Vercambre et al., 2010). In particular, a large RCT study on long term supplementation with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)—a good source of MUFA—showed significant improvement in verbal fluency and episodic memory, and reduced incidence of MCI, in the supplemented group as compared to controls (Martinez- Lapiscina et al., 2013b). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive decline in elderly people often derives from the interaction between aging-related changes and age-related diseases and covers a large spectrum of clinical manifestations, from intact cognition through mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Epidemiological evidence supports the hypothesis that modifiable lifestyle-related factors are associated with cognitive decline, opening new avenues for prevention. Diet in particular has become the object of intense research in relation to cognitive aging and neurodegenerative disease. We reviewed the most recent findings in this rapidly expanding field. Some nutrients, such as vitamins and fatty acids, have been studied longer than others, but strong scientific evidence of an association is lacking even for these compounds. Specific dietary patterns, like the Mediterranean diet, may be more beneficial than a high consumption of single nutrients or specific food items. A strong link between vascular risk factors and dementia has been shown, and the association of diet with several vascular and metabolic diseases is well known. Other plausible mechanisms underlying the relationship between diet and cognitive decline, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, have been established. In addition to the traditional etiological pathways, new hypotheses, such as the role of the intestinal microbiome in cognitive function, have been suggested and warrant further investigation.
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