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Alzheimer's Risk May Be Decreased by Protective Diet

Diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, folate, and vitamin E linked to decreased risk

THURSDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- A dietary pattern (DP) with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, salad dressing, nuts, fish, and poultry, and lower intakes of items including red meat and high-fat dairy products may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by almost 40 percent, according to research published in the June issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of 2,148 elderly subjects without dementia to assess DPs -- as opposed to examining individual foods ingested -- and their relationship to the incident risk of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers used statistical methods to calculate DPs based on their ability to account for variation in the levels of seven nutrients potentially related to Alzheimer's disease.

One DP was noted by the investigators to be associated with lower Alzheimer's disease risk; this DP included a higher dietary intake of fruits, dark and green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, fish, poultry, nuts, and salad dressing. It also included a lower dietary intake of butter, organ meat, red meat, and high-fat dairy products. Those subjects in the highest tertile of adherence to this DP had a hazard ratio for Alzheimer's disease of 0.62 compared to those in the lowest tertile of this DP.

"The results of the current study indicate that higher consumption of certain foods (salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, dark and green leafy vegetables) and lower of others (high-fat dairy, red meat, organ meat, and butter) may be associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease via a more favorable profile of nutrients (i.e., lower ingestion of saturated fatty acids and higher ingestion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and folate). Our findings provide support for further exploration of food combination-based dietary behavior for the prevention of this important public health problem," the authors write.

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