Alzheimer's Association International Conference

Alzheimer's Association International Conference

July 26, 2018
3 min read

Fruits, vegetables, lower risk for dementia, increase cognition

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Different foods provided benefits associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cognition, according to several abstracts presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Healthy diet reduces risk for dementia

Researchers developed a score based on consumption of cooked fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, olive oil, as well as raw fruits and vegetables. Eating habits and health status of 7,353 participants were scored at baseline.

They found that after 14 years, there were 906 cases of incident dementia, and those with a high adherence to the healthy diet were less likely to develop dementia (HR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.68-0.89).

MIND diet increases cognition

An analysis of 2,092 participants of the Framingham Heart study who did not have dementia or stroke and followed the MIND diet indicated better Alzheimer’s related symptoms across three different examination cycles from 1991 to 2001.

The findings indicated that for every unit increase in the MIND diet score, there was superior abstract reasoning [β ± SE = 0.11 ± 0.04]; episodic memory [β ± SE = 0.42 ± 0.11]; global cognition [β ± SE = 0.04 ± 0.01]; processing speed [β ± SE = 0.01 ± 0.004], and visual memory [β ± SE = 0.12 ± 0.04], with significant interactions in participants who had the APOE genotype.

Unsaturated fats’ link to dementia

A follow-up of 1,890 participants who provided their eating habits as part of a CVD study conducted in the 1960s, who were then assessed for dementia more than 3 decades later showed that total calories consumed, as well as the percent of calories derived from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat were not related to developing late-life dementia.

Flavonols decrease Alzheimer’s disease risk

Researchers examined dietary assessments and neurological exams of 934 participants, paying particular attention to their baseline dietary intakes of flavonols.

The findings indicated that participants with the highest quintile of total flavonol intake compared to the lowest intake quintile had a decreased rate of Alzheimer’s disease (HR = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33-0.84). Individual flavonol intake also suggested a protective effect against Alzheimer’s: kaempferol (HR = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.31- 0.77); isorhamnetin (HR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.39-0.98); myricetin (HR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.4-0.97) and quercetin (HR = 0.69; 95% CI, 0.43-1.09).

Omega-3 fatty acids may improve cognition

The impact of a 26-day intervention consisting of omega-3 essential fatty acids, green tea catechins and ginsenosides vs. those participants vs. a similar looking, smelling and tasting placebo was assessed using the Digit Symbol Substitution Test, Mini-Mental State Examination and Stroop test.. After a 30-day washout period followed, researchers found that the test scores increased in the investigational product phase (t tests, P < .05) but not in the placebo group (t tests, P > .05).

A sixth abstract suggested not all the findings regarding food intake provide cognitive benefit.

Western diet increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease

At the other end of the spectrum, researchers studied the impact of the a less healthy diet using food frequency questionnaires of 468 Memory and Aging Project clinical neuropathological cohort study participants, with the last data collected an average of 5.9 years before the participant passed away.

The findings indicated a more significant association with Alzheimer’s disease pathology in those participants who consumed the Western diet (eg, high fat and fried foods, red and processed meats) including greater neuritic plaque severity scores (P = 0.01), higher amyloid level (P = 0.01) and higher NIA Reagan scores (P = 0.05) vs. those who followed a non-Western diet.  

Diets in some at-risk patients may need improvement

Researchers assessed cognitive complaints among 166 people with subjective cognitive decline based on their adherence to dietary guidelines and scores on nutritional components such as alcohol, fruit, fibers, fish, saturated fat, salt, trans fatty acids and vegetables.

They found no link between patients with cognitive complaints and adherence to dietary guidelines, but nearly 50% of the participants with subjective cognitive decline failed to follow dietary guidelines. - by Janel Miller

Aggarwal NT, et al. Western diet is related to AD and vascular brain neuropathologies in older adults.

Carmichael OT, et al. A combination of essential fatty acids, panax ginseng extract, and green tea catechins significantly increases brain activation and functional connectivity during an fMRI task in healthy older adults.

Goldbourt U, et al. Higher percent calories reported from saturated fat during midlife is associated with lower prevalence of dementia three decades later.

Himali JJ, et al. Adherence to the Mind diet is associated with better cognition in the Framingham Heart Study.

Holland TM, et al. Nutritional intake of flavonols may decrease the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in an elderly population.


Judd SE, et al. Dietary pattern at baseline is associated with decreased risk of dementia in an urban French cohort (the 3 Cities Study).

Wesselman LMP, et al. Nutritional intake in subjective cognitive decline: Room for improvement?

All presented at: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference; July 22-26, 2018; Chicago.

Disclosures : Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine authors’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.