Currently available epidemiological evidence suggested that an increase of saturated fatty acids (SFA) could have negative effects on cognitive functions, while increased polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) may be protective against cognitive decline. In a Southern Italian elderly population from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA), a clear reduction of risk of age-related cognitive decline (ARCD) has been found with elevated intake of PUFA and MUFA. Furthermore, in the ILSA, while dietary fatty acids intakes were not associated with incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI), high PUFA intake appeared to have borderline non-significant trend for a protective effect against the development of MCI.

These epidemiological findings on predementia syndromes, i.e. MCI or ARCD, together with a recent randomised controlled trial on a possible effect on cognitive and depressive symptoms of omega-3 PUFA supplementation in patients with very mild AD, suggested a possible role of fatty acids intake in maintaining adequate cognitive functioning and possibly in preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.