University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Healthy Diets Go Straight to the Brain

Lowering fat intake is good for your brain

U of T researchers at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care have discovered that fat-rich diets are not only bad for the heart (and the hips), they may also be bad for your brain. In a recent study, rats on a high-fat diet displayed severe impairment on a wide range of learning and memory tasks compared with those fed low-fat laboratory chow. The research also showed that giving glucose to the high-fat rats significantly improved their memory. “Our brain needs glucose – essentially energy – in order to function,” says Professor Carol Greenwood of nutritional sciences and a scientist at Baycrest’s Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit. “When glucose metabolism is impeded by saturated fatty acids, it’s like clogging the brain and starving it of energy.” The researchers hope these findings will make people reconsider a very popular fad diet that is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates. “The important message here is that modifying diet and lowering fat intake is good for your brain,” says Greenwood.

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