(Health Secrets Newsletter) A small Seattle based study has concluded that eating a diet that is lower in saturated fat could quickly reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Although the research is only a starting point in linking diet and Alzheimer’s, it is yet another good reason for balancing your intake of saturated fat and unsaturated fat.
What Did the Study Show?
The study, which was published in Archives of Neurology, measured certain biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, which are proteins present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These proteins build up and form abnormal deposits in the brains of people that suffer from Alzheimer’s, so it is thought that the presence of these proteins in the CSF could be a good indicator of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The study involved 49 participants with an average age of around 68. While 20 of the participants were healthy, the other 29 showed signs of mild cognitive impairment and memory problems. At the beginning and end of the study, the participants’ CSF was tested for Alzheimer’s related proteins, using a needle inserted into the base of the spine, and they were asked to perform various cognitive assessments.
The participants were split randomly into two groups, and each group followed a particular diet for four weeks.
- Group 1 followed a high fat diet getting 45% of calories from fat (25% from saturated fat) and 35-40% from carbohydrate
- Group 2 followed a low fat diet getting 25% of calories from fat (less than 7% from saturated fat) and 55-60% from carbohydrate
For the healthy participants within the study, there was a marked decrease in the concentration of Alzheimer’s related proteins in the CSF when they followed the low fat diet, suggesting a decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Overall their results in the cognitive assessments also improved. The healthy adults who followed the high fat diet had no such reduction in Alzheimer’s related proteins.
For the participants that already suffered from mild cognitive impairment, both the low fat and high fat diets increased the concentrations of Alzheimer’s related proteins in the CSF, indicating that a low fat diet may work as a preventative measure against developing Alzheimer’s but that it won’t be effective at reversing its symptoms once they have appeared.
While this was only a small study that took place over a short period of time, it is yet another indication that eating a health diet that balances saturated fats and unsaturated fats throughout our lifetime can bring great health rewards in later years. Here are ten tips for balancing the fats in your diet:
- Buy foods containing a variety of naturally occurring fats, including saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Use the same measurement to compare various products e.g. the amount of fat per 100g.
- Buy lean cuts of meat rather than those with a high fat content and trim off excess fat.
- Use milk and milk products that have not been homogenized whenever possible. Homogenizing creates unnatural fat.
- Grill, roast or bake meats, and avoid frying.
- Cut down on high fat meat products such as bacon and sausage.
- Use soft cheese such as cottage cheese rather than hard cheese.
- Use plenty of vegetables and beans in stews etc. and cut in half the amount of meat you would normally use.
- Do not use margarine or other trans fats such a hydrogenated oils or shortening.
- Saute or stir fry rather than deep frying.
Men should make an effort to limit saturated fat intake per day to 30g, and women to limit theirs to 20g per day. Always try to avoid processed foods as they often contain trans fats.