Eating a diet low in saturated fat “could help stave off Alzheimer's disease”, according to The Daily Telegraph.
This is another case of bad conclusion by newspaper reporter. The research shows no such thing! It didn't study Alzheimer's disease, and it didn't compare a low saturated fats diet to a high saturated fats diet. Also it was a very short term study and used a very small sample size and can therefore not be conclusive in anyway. It gave conflicting and ambiguous results.
In my opinion it was a badly designed study. By combining two major dietary differences it practically guaranteed that the results would be inconclusive. However if you compare it with well designed studies you can see that the high glycemic index diet should have been bad, so since it wasn't as bad as it could have been perhaps the saturated fat was good and helped to balance out the bad of the high glycemic index diet.
It is sad that reporters like to report what they believe no matter what the facts say.
At least the researchers stated a conclusion that made sense. “Diet may be a powerful environmental factor that modulates Alzheimer’s disease risk”.The Daily Telegraph reported this study uncritically, although its coverage did feature quotes highlighting its limitations.
What kind of research was this?
This double-blind randomised controlled trial looked at the effects of specific diets on cognition and various markers for Alzheimer’s disease, both in healthy people and in people with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers say that, to their knowledge, no study has looked at the effects of a dietary intervention on Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF).
The researchers say that recent reviews of observational studies have suggested that increased saturated fat intake is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment, and that increasing monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat intake is associated with reduced risk. However, they say that trials testing the effects of specific fatty acids in people with Alzheimer’s disease have been disappointing. Therefore, they wanted to test the effects of a “whole diet” intervention that did not just change one dietary factor, but instead controlled the levels of multiple components of the diet.
In other words, they recognized that the party line of "saturated fats are bad" simply isn't backed up by the research. So they decided to mix the saturated fats with something that they know is very bad (sugar) so they could show that their already arrived at conclusion is correct.More research is needed to study the effects of diet on Alzheimer’s risk.
In the mean time, be sure to eat plenty of good fats (coconut oil, raw butter, avocadoes, raw milk and eggs, nuts, etc) , and eliminate added sugar products from your diet, since we know that these habits lead to improvements in health.
Links To The Headlines
Low fat diet 'could stave off Alzheimer's'. The Daily Telegraph, June 14 2011
Links To Science
Bayer-Carter JL, Green PS, Montine TJ et al. Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. Archives of Neurology, Vol. 68 No. 6, June 2011