Researchers in Iran have found that the combination of three antioxidant nutrients—vitamins C and E and astaxanthin—can improve memory deficits caused by consuming a high-fat diet.
Eating a diet high in fat can cause oxidative stress and metabolic disorders, resulting in damage to neurons and interference with the transfer of messages in the brain. This can manifest as a decline in learning and memory. Antioxidants are the most powerful weapons against oxidative stress and free radical damage.
In this rat study, the researchers aimed to determined the link between a chronic high-fat diet and antioxidants on passive avoidance learning (PAL)—when animals stop displaying a response they’ve used regularly in the past due to a punishing or threatening stimulus.
The rats were randomly assigned into five groups:
- Regular diet (control)
- High-fat diet
- ANO—high-fat diet plus vitamins C and E and astaxanthin
- RHFD—restricted high-fat diet
- RANO—restricted high-fat diet plus vitamins C and E and astaxanthin
After six months, the high-fat diet group displayed significant memory problems compared to the controls. However, the rats that took the antioxidants showed improved testing scores.
According to the results, a high-fat diet “impairs PAL and the combination of vitamins C and E and astaxanthin improves PAL deficits in the high-fat diet group.”
Komaki A, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Apr;131:98-103.