Associations between dietary fatty acid patterns and cognitive function in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Br J Nutr. 2021 Aug 26;1-35. doi: 10.1017/S0007114521003275. Online ahead of print.


Our objective was to quantify the cross-sectional associations between dietary fatty acid (DFA) patterns and cognitive function among Hispanic/Latino adults. This study included data from 8,942 participants of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, a population-based cohort study (weighted age 56.2 y and proportion female 55.2%). The NCI (National Cancer Institute) method was used to estimate dietary intake from two 24-hr recalls. We derived DFA patterns using principal components analysis with 26 fatty acid and total plant and animal monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) input variables. Global cognitive function was calculated as the average z-score of 4 neurocognitive tests. Survey linear regression models included multiple potential confounders such as age, sex, education, depressive symptoms, physical activity, energy intake, and cardiovascular disease. DFA patterns were characterized by consumption of long-chain saturated fatty acids (SFA), animal-based MUFA, and trans fatty acids (Factor 1); short to medium-chain SFA (Factor 2); very-long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (Factor 3); very-long-chain SFA and plant-based MUFA and PUFA (Factor 4). Factor 2 was associated with greater scores for global cognitive function (β=0.037 ± 0.012) and the Digit Symbol Substitution (DSS) (β=0.56±0.17), Brief Spanish English Verbal Learning-Sum (B-SEVLT) (β=0.23 ± 0.11), and B-SEVLT-Recall (β=0.11 ± 0.05) tests (P<0.05 for all). Factors 1 (β=0.04 ± 0.01) and 4 (β=0.70 ± 0.18) were associated with the DSS test (P<0.05 for all). Consumption of short to medium-chain SFA may be associated with higher cognitive function among U.S.-residing Hispanic/Latino adults. Prospective studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Cognitive function; Dietary Patterns; Fatty Acids; Hispanic/Latinos.