Eating a Healthy Diet May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

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A diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, and low in red meat and alcohol may help preserve cognitive health, according to findings published in Neurology.

27,860 men and women from 40 countries, all who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease and who were enrolled in the ONTARGET and TRANSCEND trials, were followed for an average of five years. Andrew Smyth, MMedSc, of McMaster University in Canada and the Population Health Research Institute, and colleagues, measured diet quality using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and mental state using the Mini-Mental State Examination.

Over the course of 56 months of follow-up, 4,699 cases of cognitive decline (17%) occurred, signifying a drop of three or more points in thinking and memory test scores. Fourteen percent of those who experienced cognitive decline ate a healthy diet, compared to 18% of participants who ate a less healthy diet and experienced cognitive decline (hazard ratio 0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.66–0.86, Q5 vs Q1). Overall, participants who ate a healthier diet had a 24% lower likelihood of experiencing a drop in thinking and memory.

The results support previous reported links between brain health and a healthy diet, and may present a modifiable risk factor that help reduce the growing burden of cognitive decline. 

Diet
Eating a Healthy Diet May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

Andrew Smyth, MMedSc, of McMaster University in Canada and the Population Health Research Institute, and colleagues, sought to determine the association of dietary factors and risk of cognitive decline in a population at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Baseline dietary intake and measures of the Mini-Mental State Examination were recorded in 27,860 men and women who were enrolled in 2 international parallel trials of the ONTARGET (Ongoing Telmisartan Alone and in Combination with Ramipril Global Endpoint Trial) and TRANSCEND (Telmisartan Randomised Assessment Study in ACE Intolerant Subjects with Cardiovascular Disease) studies. We measured diet quality using the modified Alternative Healthy Eating Index.

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