Eating Meals High In Saturated Fat Can Impact Ability To Focus, New Study Finds

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KEY POINTS

  • A new study revealed the relationship between high-saturated fat meal and concentration
  • One meal consisting of high-saturated fat can negatively impact focus
  • In a test, a healthy meal made a difference in the results of the participants

For many, fatty food may be a source of comfort during these trying times. A recent study, however, revealed that eating foods high in saturated fat can, in fact, hinder your ability to focus. This is not good news for those whose diets have already become a thing of the past as they continue working at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Link Between Fatty Food And The Brain

Researchers from Ohio State University compared the attentiveness of 51 women after eating a meal high in unsaturated fat and one that is high in saturated fat. The women’s performance on the test was worse after consuming a high-saturated-fat meal compared to when they ate a meal made with healthier fat. This indicated a link between fatty food and the brain.

The researchers also looked at whether a medical condition called leaky gut likewise affects concentration. A leaky gut is a health condition where intestinal bacteria manage to enter the bloodstream. Volunteers with leakier guts performed badly on the attention assessment no matter which meal was consumed. high-saturated fat meal and focus high-saturated fat meal and focus Photo: Free-Photos

Continuous Performance Test

The study involved using a tool called continuous performance test. This allows researchers to measure the volunteers’ sustained attention, as well as their concentration and reaction time, as they perform computer-based activities, which ran for 10 minutes.

The volunteers were then asked to consume a high-fat meal consisting of biscuits, eggs, turkey sausage, and gravy, which contain 60 grams of fat. The meal was designed to replicate the contents of different fast-food meals like McDonald’s Big Mac with medium fries or Burger King’s double whopper with cheese.

After five hours, the volunteers again took the continuous performance test. One to four weeks later, they ate a healthier meal, which is a complete opposite of what they ate during the second test and took the test again.

An Eye Opener

According to the researchers, the loss of concentration after one meal was an eye-opener. Annelise Madison, the study’s lead author and graduate student in clinical psychology at The Ohio State University, past works investigating the diet’s causative effect involves some time. Today, they find it remarkable to immediately see the difference after even just one meal.

Madison also noted that while the meal made with sunflower oil was low in saturated fat, it still contained a substantial amount of dietary fat. “Because both meals were high-fat and potentially problematic, the high-saturated-fat meal’s cognitive effect could be even greater if it were compared to a lower-fat meal,” Madison said. Their study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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