Kwantlen Polytechnic University - British Columbia

A better diet can help ward off cognitive decline in older adults

According to a new Canadian study, a heavy consumption of fruits and vegetables improves cognitive function among middle age and older adults. It was discovered that a Mediterranean diet improved mental status among study participants between the ages of 45-85.

Investigators say that consumption of more vegetables and fruits and more nuts and pulses (such as lentils and beans) were associated with higher scores on tests of verbal fluency, a key measure of mental proficiency.

“These findings are consistent with other research that has found a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes is protective against cognitive decline,” reported co-author Dr. Karen Davison, a nutrition informatics research program director at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia and a North American Primary Care Research Fellow.

“Every increase in average daily fruit and vegetable intake was linked to higher verbal fluency scores, but the best outcomes were found among those who consumed at least 6 servings a day.”

Verbal fluency is an important measure of cognitive function. To test it, subjects are asked to list as many words from a given category as they can in one minute. This measures language and executive function and can be used to detect cognitive impairment.

The researchers investigated the relationship between other factors and cognitive health, as well, including immigrant status, age, blood pressure, obesity, and body fat.


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