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. 2014 Sep;35 Suppl 2:S59-64.
doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.03.038. Epub 2014 May 15.

Dietary Fat Composition and Dementia Risk

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Dietary Fat Composition and Dementia Risk

Martha Clare Morris et al. Neurobiol Aging. .
Free PMC article


This is a qualitative review of the evidence linking dietary fat composition to the risk of developing dementia. The review considers laboratory and animal studies that identify underlying mechanisms as well as prospective epidemiologic studies linking biochemical or dietary fatty acids to cognitive decline or incident dementia. Several lines of evidence provide support for the hypothesis that high saturated or trans fatty acids increase the risk of dementia and high polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids decrease risk. Dietary fat composition is an important factor in blood-brain barrier function and the blood cholesterol profile. Cholesterol and blood-brain barrier function are involved in the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease, and the primary genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, apolipoprotein E-ε4, is involved in cholesterol transport. The epidemiologic literature is seemingly inconsistent on this topic, but many studies are difficult to interpret because of analytical techniques that ignored negative confounding by other fatty acids, which likely resulted in null findings. The studies that appropriately adjust for confounding by other fats support the dietary fat composition hypothesis.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Cognitive decline; Dementia; Diet; Fatty acids; Monounsaturated fats; Polyunsaturated fats; Saturated fats; Trans fats.

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure Statement

Dr. Morris is a consultant for Abbott Nutrition and Nutrispective, and has received honoraria from the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine and the National Institute on Aging.

Dr. Tangney has no potential conflicts of interest.

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