Double duty: a heart-healthy diet can also protect the brain, from Harvard Women's Health Watch

What you eat clearly affects heart health. New research suggests that a heart-healthy diet may also preserve memory and reduce the odds of developing dementia, reports the August 2012 issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch.

In a recent study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, women who ate the most saturated fat from foods such as red meat and butter performed worse on tests of thinking and memory than women who ate the least saturated fat.

Saturated fat raises blood levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which builds up in and damages arteries. "We know that's bad for your heart. There is now a lot of evidence that it's also bad for your brain," says Dr. Francine Grodstein, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study.

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