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ICAD: Antihypertension Diet Linked to Improved Cognition

DASH diet associated with higher cognitive functioning at baseline and over 11 years

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a diet designed to lower blood pressure may be associated with a reduction in age-related cognitive decline, supporting a link between hypertension and dementia, according to research presented at the 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, held July 11 to 16 in Vienna, Austria.

Heidi J. Wengreen, Ph.D., of Utah State University in Logan, and colleagues examined 3831 individuals 65 years of age and older, who participated in the Cache County Study on Memory, Health, and Aging. Participants were evaluated on their adherence to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet plan. Individuals were classified into five DASH score groups based on their reported consumption of nine food and nutrient component groups, and followed over 11 years.

The researchers found that, both at the initiation and over the course of the study, higher DASH scores were associated with higher cognitive functioning scores. On a cognitive function test, individuals in the highest DASH score group scored 1.42 and 1.81 points higher at baseline and after 11 years, respectively, compared with individuals in the lowest DASH score group. Of the nine food and nutrient component groups, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts and legumes were significantly and independently associated with cognitive functioning scores.

"Our results suggest that including whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts in one's diet may offer benefits for cognition in late life," Wengreen states. "We need more research before we can confidently say how much of these foods to include in your diet to experience some benefit."

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