Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, moderate in nuts, fish and alcohol and low in meat and full-fat dairy is associated with better cognitive performance in middle age, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Cognitive abilities include thinking and memory skills. The study involved 2,621 people who were at an average age of 25 at the start and were then followed for 30 years. The participants' dietary patterns were evaluated to see how closely they adhered to three heart-healthy diets: the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and diet quality score designed as part of the study called the CARDIA, a priori Diet Quality Score, or APDQS.that could affect thinking and memory skills.
The researchers found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet and the APDQS diet, but not the DASH diet, had less 5-year decline in their cognitive function at middle-age. Diet emphasizing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy unsaturated fats, nuts, legumes and fish and limits red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy and moderate alcohol was found to be ideal.