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Eating This One 'Healthy' Food Could Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 4/9/2018 Brooke Nelson

Thankfully, one simple swap can save your brain.

With the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease growing fast, it’s never too late (nor too early!) to assess your risk. One of the best places to start? Your own plate. But before you stock up on the best foods for your brain, there’s one surprising item you might want to avoid—and it’s probably in your kitchen right now. Canola oil could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

To study the cognitive effects of this vegetable-based fat, researchers at Temple University split lab mice into two groups: While the first group ate a normal diet for six months, the others had about two tablespoons of canola oil added to their diets each day. Then, the mice ran a maze to test their cognitive skills.

Based on the mice’s performance, the researchers reported a sharp reduction in the memories of the canola-eating mice compared to the first group. The canola oil group also gained more weight than their counterparts.

But the mice’s weight gain didn’t cause their bad recall skills. Turns out, canola oil consumption also lowered levels of a dementia-fighting protein called amyloid beta 1-40 in the mice’s brains, according to researchers. This protein deficiency allowed amyloid plaque to surround their brains’ neurons, which decreased and damaged the neural connections. The mice’s memories suffered, as a result.

In light of this, you might want to ban canola oil from your pantry. “Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” said Domenico Praticò, MD, a senior investigator on the study. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”

Granted, this study used mice instead of humans as subjects, so the jury’s still out on the true effect of canola oil on human brains. But it can’t hurt to swap canola with olive oil, in the meantime. Nutritionists tout—and scientific research confirms—the benefits of this heart and brain-healthy superfood. And while you’re at it, try these everyday habits that reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, too. Trust us, your noggin will thank you.

[Source: EurekAlert]

Gallery: 9 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Every Adult Should Know Why early detection matters: With grim prognoses and very limited treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection isn’t particularly advantageous. (These 36 habits reduce your risk of Alzheimer's.) But that may be changing—fast. One of the hottest areas of Alzheimer's research involves treating people in the very earliest stages of the disease with drugs that decrease the production of amyloid beta (proteins that bunch together to form damaging plaques in the brain). Experts believe that people begin to develop amyloid plaques in their brains at least 10 years before they develop any obvious symptoms of dementia. This is how memory loss in Alzheimer's patients could soon be reversed.Reisa Sperling, MD, director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is leading a new clinical trial, called the A4 study, which will evaluate patients with evidence of Alzheimer’s damage in the brain but who still have normal thinking and memory function. The trial will randomly assign groups to receive medication, and researchers will determine over three years whether the drugs affected the patients’ memory or levels of amyloid. 'When a person already has a lot of memory trouble, they already have significant neuron loss,' says Dr. Sperling. 'We need to find and treat people much earlier.' Here's what to watch for. 9 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Every Adult Should Know

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