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Faye Flam

Food Science Is Caught Between the Head and the Heart

"Heart-healthy" foods could be bad for the brain, new research suggests. What's a careful eater to do?
Isn't it beautiful?

Isn't it beautiful?

Photographer: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, a scientific claim linking canola oil to Alzheimer’s disease risk raised an intriguing question: When it comes to healthy eating, do we have to choose between the head and the heart? In other words, is it possible that foods promoted as good for cardiovascular health, such as canola oil, are bad for the brain?

There’s surprisingly little information out there on what to eat for brain health. The vast majority of nutrition research is aimed at the heart. Why wouldn’t scientists want to focus on maintaining the seat of consciousness, memory, creativity, love, learning and joy, as opposed to a glorified pump?