Scientists from the University of Illinois and elsewhere found that MIND diet adherence is selectively linked to faster cognitive processing speed.
As we age, our cognitive function declines, making it harder to focus, remember things, and make decisions. This can lead to difficulties in daily life and reduced quality of life.
Many factors can contribute to cognitive decline, but recent research suggests that diet may play a crucial role in maintaining cognitive function.
Previous studies have looked at the impact of individual nutrients on cognitive function, but little research has been done on the effects of overall dietary patterns.
To fill this gap, researchers conducted a study to examine the link between different dietary patterns and attentional inhibition and neuroelectric function in middle-aged adults.
The study involved 207 adults with a BMI ranging from 18.5 to over 40 kg/m2 who completed a Dietary History Questionnaire to assess their adherence to different diet quality indices.
These indices included the Mediterranean, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015), and Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diets.
The researchers assessed attentional inhibition using a modified Eriksen flanker task while recording event-related potentials (ERPs).
ERPs are changes in the brain’s electrical activity in response to a specific event, and they can be used to measure cognitive function.
The researchers found that greater adherence to the MIND diet was associated with faster information processing speed in middle-aged adults with a BMI ranging from healthy to obese. Specifically, the study found that the P3 peak latency, which reflects the speed at which the brain processes information, was faster in participants who adhered more closely to the MIND diet during incongruent flanker trials.
In other words, when cognitive control demands were increased, those who followed the MIND diet showed faster processing speed.
Interestingly, adherence to the other dietary patterns, including the Mediterranean, DASH, and HEI-2015 diets, did not show a significant association with P3 latency or attentional inhibition at the behavioral level.
This suggests that the MIND diet may have unique benefits for cognitive function.
The MIND diet emphasizes the consumption of foods that are rich in nutrients that have been linked to cognitive health, such as leafy green vegetables, berries, nuts, whole grains, and fish.
It also limits the intake of less healthy foods, such as red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, sweets, and fried or fast foods.
This study’s findings suggest that following the MIND diet may help maintain cognitive function, particularly when cognitive control demands are high.
However, more research is needed to determine whether consuming a MIND diet can prevent or delay cognitive decline in older adults.
The research was published in the Journal of Nutrition and was conducted by Tori A Holthaus et al.
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