This Diet Lowers Cognitive Decline Risk By 17%

Adhering to this diet could not only lower the risk of heart disease but also boost cognitive function.

Adhering to this diet could not only lower the risk of heart disease but also boost cognitive function.

Heart healthy diets designed to lower blood pressure can also improve memory and thinking in later life.

According to a study, middle-aged women who adopt a blood pressure lowering diet are 17 percent less likely to experience signs of cognitive decline such as memory loss, poor thinking and reasoning years later.

Adhering to a healthy eating style such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH) not only lowers the risk of heart disease but also can boost cognitive function.

The study focused on women as over two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are female.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, which gradually ruins memory and thinking skills.

It is estimated that nearly 7 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the figure is likely to double by 2060.

Professor Yu Chen, the study’s senior author, said:

“Subjective complaints about daily cognitive performance are early predictors of more serious neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

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.”

The DASH diet

The DASH diet planĀ involves eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and also includes fish, poultry, non-fat or low fat dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetable oils.

It also encourages eating foods that are high in magnesium, calcium, and potassium but limits foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and sodium.

The diet is mainly designed to combat high blood pressure and so the risk of heart disease but it also improves cognitive function.

Hypertension in middle-age is also a risk factor for vascular cognitive impairment, a condition that damages the brain’s blood vessels, leading to cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Start in midlife

The study enrolled 5,116 women with a 30-year follow up.

They assessed participants’ levels of cognitive impairment, which can potentially lead to dementia in later life.

Typical cognitive issues include forgetting recent events or conversations or failing to navigate familiar roads, or remember shopping lists.

The results showed that women who consumed the DASH diet were 17 percent less likely to have such cognitive problems.

Ms Yixiao Song, the study’s first author, said:

“Our data suggest that it is important to start a healthy diet in midlife to prevent cognitive impairment in older age.”

Dr Fen Wu, study co-author, said:

“Following the DASH diet may not only prevent high blood pressure, but also cognitive issues.”


The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Song et al., 2023).

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