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Behav Neural Biol. 1990 Jan;53(1):74-87.

Learning and memory impairment in rats fed a high saturated fat diet.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


At the age of 1 month, three separate groups of Long-Evans rats were placed on 20% (w/w) fat (40% of calories) diets high in either saturated fatty acids (lard-based) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (soybean oil-based) or standard laboratory chow (Purina, 4.5% (w/w) fat). After 3 months, all rats were administered three tests of learning and memory--Olton's radial arm maze, a variable-interval delayed alternation task, and the Hebb-Williams maze series. The lard-fed group was impaired on all tests. The soybean oil-fed group was slightly impaired on some measures, relative to the chow-fed group, but consistently performed better than the lard-fed group. The results indicate that a diet high in saturated fatty acids can impair a wide range of learning and memory functions and are in line with biochemical and physiological evidence showing widespread effects of such diets on brain function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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