Want to Think Better, Eat Less Fat

The Lempert Report
June 26, 2020

There is a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that reports that eating just one meal high in saturated fat can reduce our ability to concentrate and focus.

The researchers compared the performance of 51 women on a test of their attentiveness and concentration skills after they ate either a meal high in saturated fat or the same meal made with sunflower oil, which is high in unsaturated fat.

Their performance on the test was worse after eating the high-saturated-fat meal than after they ate the meal containing a healthier fat, signaling a link between that fatty food and the brain.

Annelise Madison, lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology at The Ohio State University said, "Most prior work looking at the causative effect of the diet has looked over a period of time. And this was just one meal -- it's pretty remarkable that we saw a difference." 

"Because both meals were high-fat and potentially problematic, the high-saturated-fat meal's cognitive effect could be even greater if it were compared to a lower-fat meal," Madison said after noting that the meal made with sunflower oil, while low in saturated fat, still contained a lot of dietary fat.