There are a number of dietary links between dementia and heart disease. Excessive sugar/processed fructose, grains, and trans fat consumption are three factors that promote both.
Not surprisingly, recent research1 has pointed out that heart disease also increases your odds of developing Alzheimer's disease, which is a serious and deadly form of dementia.
According to the authors, vascular damage may predispose your brain to increased amyloid plaque buildup, which is a hallmark of this degenerative brain disease. Plaque buildup worsens with stiffer arteries, so preventing arterial plaque formation may be a critical factor in the prevention of dementia.
For decades, saturated fats have been demonized as the cause of heart disease. The food industry, responding to such health concerns replaced saturated fats with trans fats, and a whole new market of low-fat (but high-sugar) foods was born.
Americans' health has plummeted ever since, and there's no telling how many people have been millions have been prematurely killed by this mistake... Making matters worse, genetically engineered soy oil, which is a major source of trans fats, can oxidize inside your body, thereby causing damage to both your heart and your brain.
Trans Fat Clogs Your Arteries, Not Saturated Fat
As it turns out, saturated fat was never the culprit in heart disease. That assumption was based on flawed research, the conclusions of which were entirely erroneous.
Dr. Fred Kummerow, author of Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, has researched fats and heart disease for eight decades, and he was the first researcher to identify which fats actually cause clogged arteries.
Last December, The New York Times2 featured Dr. Kummerow's research on fats, which shows that trans fats (found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) are to blame for rising heart disease rates. Dr. Kummerow was the first to publish a scientific article on this association, back in 1957.
Preliminary study findings3 presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014 also reveal that trans fat is linked to a higher risk of memory impairment. This isn't surprising when you consider the links between dementia and heart disease. According to Time Magazine:4
"[T]rans fat intake was linked to worse memory in people under age 45, even after controlling for mind-influencing factors like age, depression and education. Every gram of trans fat eaten per day was linked to 0.76 fewer words recalled. Put another way? Those who ate the most trans fat remembered 11 fewer words."
One of the authors, Dr. Beatrice Golomb, noted that since the average number of words correctly recalled was 86, a loss of about a dozen words represents "a pretty big detriment to function."5
The research, while unable to establish cause and effect, suggests trans fats may act as a pro-oxidant, contributing to oxidative stress that causes cellular damage. This is similar to Dr. Kummerow's earlier findings, which show that vegetable oils oxidize when heated, and when oxidized cholesterol and trans fat enter into your LDL particles, they become destructive.
Trans Fats 101
Dr. Kummerow, now 100 years old, is still an active researcher and writer. He published four papers in the past couple of years alone. Some of his most recent research6 shows that there are two types of fats in our diet responsible for the formation of heart disease:
Trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oil. Structurally, trans fats are synthetic fatty acids; 14 of them are produced during the hydrogenation process. (They are not present in either animal or vegetable fats.)
Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin,7 which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.
Oxidized cholesterol forms when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn and sunflower oils) are heated. This oxidized cholesterol (not dietary cholesterol in and of itself) causes increased thromboxane formation—a factor that clots your blood.
Two of Dr. Kummerow's papers pertain to how these oils harden your arteries and play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis. As reported by The New York Times:8 "The problem, [Dr. Kummerow] says, is not LDL, the "bad cholesterol"... What matters is whether the cholesterol and fat residing in those LDL particles have been oxidized...
[He] contends that the high temperatures used in commercial frying cause inherently unstable polyunsaturated oils to oxidize, and that these oxidized fatty acids become a destructive part of LDL particles. Even when not oxidized by frying, soybean and corn oils can oxidize inside the body."