New York: Women with heart healthy diets during middle age were about 17 per cent less likely to report memory loss and other signs of cognitive decline decades later, a new study has revealed.
Led by researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the new findings suggest that a mid-life lifestyle modification – adoption of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet – may improve cognitive function later in life for women, who make up more than two-thirds of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“With more than 30 years follow-up, we found that the stronger the adherence to a DASH diet in midlife, the less likely women are to report cognitive issues much later in life,” said Yu Chen, professor in the department of population health and senior author of the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The DASH diet includes a high consumption of plant-based foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium and limits saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.
Longstanding research shows that high blood pressure, particularly in midlife, is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.
The investigators analyised data from 5,116 of the more than 14,000 women enrolled in the NYU Women’s Health Study.
Women who adhered most closely to the DASH diet had a 17 per cent reduction in the odds of reporting multiple cognitive complaints.
“Our data suggest that it is important to start a healthy diet in midlife to prevent cognitive impairment in older age”, said Yixiao Song , a lead author of the study.
“Following the DASH diet may not only prevent high blood pressure, but also cognitive issues,” added Fen Wu, a senior associate research scientist who co-led the study.