Diet, Cognitive Ability May Play Role in Heart Disease

Study finds fewer deaths among higher-functioning seniors who eat lots of fruits, vegetables

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THURSDAY, Nov. 19, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and who have good cognitive function are much less likely to die from heart disease than those who have poorer cognitive function and eat fewer fruits and vegetables, a new study has found.

Cognitive function refers to the ability to think, remember, plan and organize information.

Researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia analyzed diet and cognitive data on 4,879 people (3,101 women and 1,778 men), age 70 and older, who took part in the U.S. Longitudinal Study of Aging. The participants were followed for an average of seven years.

The analysis revealed that:

  • Those who ate three or more servings of vegetables daily had a 30 percent lower risk for dying from heart disease and a 15 percent lower risk for dying from any cause during the follow-up period than those who ate fewer than three servings of vegetables a day.
  • There was a significant association between higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased prevalence of cognitive impairment.
  • People who scored high on cognitive functions tests were less likely to die from heart disease or any other cause during the follow-up than were those with low scores.

The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains how to prevent and control heart disease risk factors.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 18, 2009

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