Heart-Healthy Diet in Middle Age Linked to Reduced Cognitive Decline Risk in Women, Study Finds

by Ella

New York, NY – A recent study led by researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine reveals a promising link between women who adopt blood pressure-lowering diets in their middle years and a significantly reduced risk of experiencing memory loss and other cognitive decline indicators later in life. These findings suggest that adhering to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet in midlife may potentially enhance cognitive function during the later stages of life. Importantly, women comprise more than two-thirds of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia.


The study, published in the journal *Alzheimer’s & Dementia*, carries significant implications for the approximately 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022. Projections indicate that this figure is expected to more than double by the year 2060.


“Subjective complaints about daily cognitive performance are early predictors of more serious neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s,” emphasized Yu Chen, PhD, MPH, a professor in the Department of Population Health and senior author of the study. “With more than 30 years of 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 emphasizes a high consumption of plant-based foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium while limiting saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Extensive research has long demonstrated that high blood pressure, particularly during midlife, constitutes a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.


The investigation involved the analysis of data from 5,116 of the over 14,000 women enrolled in the NYU Women’s Health Study, one of the longest-running studies assessing the impact of lifestyle and various factors on the development of common cancers among women and other chronic conditions. Diet information was collected through questionnaires between 1985 and 1991 when the participants were, on average, 49 years old.

These women were tracked for over 30 years, reaching an average age of 79, and were subsequently asked to report any cognitive complaints. Those who did not return questionnaires were contacted by phone.

Self-reported cognitive complaints were evaluated using six standardized questions indicative of mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia. The questions focused on difficulties in recalling recent events or shopping lists, comprehending spoken instructions or group conversations, and navigating familiar streets.

Among the six cognitive complaints, over a third of women reported experiencing more than one. Notably, women who closely adhered to the DASH diet exhibited a remarkable 17% reduction in the likelihood 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,” noted 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, PhD, a senior associate research scientist who co-led the study.


You May Also Like

Womenhealthdomain is a professional women's health portal website, the main columns include women's mental health, reproductive health, healthy diet, beauty, health status, knowledge and news.

【Contact us: [email protected]

[email protected]

Call: 18066312111

© 2023 Copyright