HealthDay News — Higher Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) scores are associated with better cognitive performance in midlife, according to a study published online March 6 in Neurology.

Claire T. McEvoy, PhD, from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, and colleagues evaluated data for 2621 Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults participants. Mean diet scores were calculated from diet history at baseline and years 7 and 20 (mean age, 25, 32, and 45 years, respectively). At years 25 and 30 (mean age, 50 and 55 years, respectively), cognitive function was assessed.

The researchers found no correlation between the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern and change in cognitive performance. Less decline in cognitive function and Stroop Interference were seen with higher MedDiet and APDQS scores. When extreme tertiles of diet scores were compared, the odds ratio for poor global cognitive function (at least one standard deviation below mean Montreal Cognitive Assessment score) was 0.54 (95% confidence interval, 0.39 to 0.74) for MedDiet, 0.48 (95% confidence interval, 0.33 to 0.69) for APDQS, and 0.89 (95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.17) for DASH.

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“Additional investigations are needed to define the combination of foods and nutrients for optimal brain health, but our findings lend support to heart-healthy dietary patterns high in fruit, vegetables, and legumes; moderate in nuts, fish, and alcohol; and low in meat for neuroprotection in midlife,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; another disclosed ties to the California Walnut Commission.

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