Studies have found that eating lots of foods containing saturated fats, such as butter and red meat, can boost levels of proteins in the brain linked to dementia.
Now scientists have discovered this may be because such a diet affects cholesterol-clearing substances in the brain.
They hope the discovery could lead to new drugs which allow the clogging fats to be cleared more effectively and so help slow down the progression of the debilitating brain condition.
In Britain 500,000 people have Alzheimer's Disease. One of the key characteristics of the condition is the formation of clumps, or 'plaques', of beta amyloid proteins which are thought to destroy brain cells.
Dr. Brett Garner, of the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute in Sydney, found through his research on mice that levels of amyloid beta proteins fell.
'Large amounts of harmful cholesterol are found in foods high in saturated fats such as red meat, butter, cheese and offal,' he said.
'If people have a diet high in saturated fats, their liver produces more of the harmful form of cholesterol called LDL, which is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.'
The study was reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
February 7, 2007