A group of U.S. scientists found that, among nearly 6,000 healthy older adults in the Health and Retirement Study, those who consistently followed diets long known to contribute to cardiovascular health were also more likely to maintain strong cognitive function in old age.

Claire McEvoy, PhD

The scoop:  Claire McEvoy, Ph.D. at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues examined the association between adherence to the Mediterranean and MIND diets and cognitive performance in a large, nationally representative population of 5,907 older, community-dwelling adults in the Health and Retirement Study. The researchers found that the more healthfully people ate, the better they functioned cognitively.  In fact, the investigators discovered that those with healthier diets exhibited meaningful preservation of cognitive function.
After controlling for demographic, lifestyle and health variables, participants who were highly adherent to these diets were 30 to 35 percent less likely to exhibit poor performance on a measure of cognitive function. Study participants who were moderately adherent to either diet were 18 percent less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

Claire McEvoy, Ph.D., et al. Neuroprotective Dietary Patterns Are Associated with Better Cognitive Performance in Older US Adults: The Health and Retirement Study. (Funder(s): The Wellcome Trust)  presented at AAIC July 2017   London, England

McEvoy CT, Guyer H, Langa KM, Yaffe K. Neuroprotective Diets Are Associated with Better Cognitive Function: The Health and Retirement Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Apr 25. PMID: 28440854.   See abstract in Pub Med

FYI:

  • The Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets were originally developed or codified to help improve cardiovascular health.
  • A hybrid of these diets, called the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND diet, is gaining attention for its potential positive effects on preserving cognitive function and reducing dementia risk in older individuals. A 2015 study found that individuals adhering to this diet exhibited less cognitive decline as they aged (Morris et al. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2015; 11:1015-22).

source: alz.org  AAIC Press releases

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