HealthDay - August 16, 2006
A high-fat, copper-rich diet may increase the risk of cognitive decline in older adults, says a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The study of 3,718 people, age 65 and older, found that a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, combined with a high intake of copper, may be associated with an accelerated rate of decline in thinking, learning and memory abilities.
Food with high copper levels include organ meats (such as liver), shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, chocolate and some fruits. Copper pipes may also add trace amounts of the metal to drinking water.
The findings were published in the August issue of the journal .
The study participants’ cognitive abilities were tested at the start of the study and again three years and six years later. They also provided information about their eating habits.
Among those who consumed the most saturated and trans fats, cognitive function declined more rapidly with the more copper they had in their diets.
"The increase in rate for the high-fat consumers whose total copper intake was in the top 20 percent (greater than or equal to 1.6 milligrams per day) was equivalent to 19 more years of age," the study authors wrote.
They found that other metals (iron and zinc) assessed in this study had no effect on cognition in people with high-fat diets.
"This finding of accelerated cognitive decline among persons whose diets were high in copper and saturated and trans fats must be viewed with caution," the authors concluded. "The supporting evidence on this topic is limited. The strength of the association and the potential impact on public health warrant further investigation."