Food and Behaviour Research

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Unhealthy foods may attenuate the beneficial relation of a Mediterranean diet to cognitive decline

Agarwal P, Dhana K, Barnes L, Holland T, Zhang Y, Evans D, Morris M (2021) Alzheimer's and Dementia DOI: 10.1002/alz.12277  

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It is unclear whether eating Western diet food components offsets the Mediterranean diet's (MedDiet) potential benefits on cognitive decline.


The study includes 5001 Chicago Health and Aging Project participants (63% African American, 36% males, 74 ± 6.0 years old), with food frequency questionnaires and ≥ two cognitive assessments over 6.3 ± 2.8 years of follow‐up. Mixed‐effects models were adjusted for age, sex, education, race, cognitive activities, physical activity, and total calories.


Stratified analysis showed a significant effect of higher MedDiet on cognitive decline only with a low Western diet score (highest vs lowest MedDiet tertile: β = 0.020, P = .002; p trend = 0.002) and not with a high Western diet score (highest vs lowest MedDiet tertile: β = 0.010, P = .11; p trend = 0.09).


This prospective study found that high consumption of Western diet components attenuates benefits of the MedDiet on cognition.


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