If you have to have a high-fat habit, you can combat the damage it wreaks on your mental faculties with a regular exercise regimen, says the NYT on its health and nutrition blog, Well.

One research study by scientists at the University of Minnesota found that exercise ameliorated memory problems exhibited by lab mice existing on a greasy food diet (conjure that image for a second). Without regular exercise, the mice showed a decline in their ability to learn and remember. As Well highlighted, the study’s authors found that regular workouts “reversed the high-fat diet-induced cognitive decline.”

This finding is supported by another study done at Kyoto University in Japan. The scientists based their studies on previous ones that showed how high-fat diets can lead to full-blown dementia among mice. They saw “the mice that were exercising had even healthier brains and better memory scores than the low-fat group even if they had remained on a high-fat diet.”

According to medical research scientist Vijayakumar Mavanji, “The fatty acids may then jump-start a process that leads to cellular damage in portions of the brain that control memory and learning. Exercise, on the other hand, seems to stimulate the production of specific biochemical substances in the brain that fight that process.”

It doesn’t seem to take much exercise to stave the mind-deteriorating effects of fatty foods. Madvanji had the lab rats in his studies on a daily 30-minute jog.

[via Well/The New York Times]