High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Affect Memory, Learning Skills 38737

April 1, 2001

1 Min Read
High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Affect Memory, Learning Skills

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Affect Memory, Learning Skills

TORONTO--Researchers at the University of Toronto report that high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets may adversely affect cognitive function. In March's Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (75, 2:179-89, 2001), researchers conducted a three-month study in young adult rats on the effects of a high-fat/low-carb diet on the ability to learn. Compared to a control group fed a normal diet, the high-fat/low-carb group was found to have impaired learning and memory functions. However, when the researchers, led by Carol E. Greenwood, administered a glucose treatment to the rats consuming high-fat diets, cognitive performance improved. The study's authors concluded that high-fat/low-carb diets may lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. In an interview with Reuters, Greenwood stated that a diet that lacks carbohydrates effectively starves the brain of glucose, which in turn deprives it of energy and cognitive skills.

However, the study based its results on a diet not usually consumed by humans: beef tallow and soybean oil. "This was a diet of pure fat. There was no [significant] protein, no vegetables," said Colette Heimowitz, M.S., director of education and research at Atkins Health and Medical Information Services, a facility that promotes a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates. "Obviously, the diet used in this study is deficient in nutrients." For a copy of the abstract, visit www.academicpress.com/nlm.

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