NEW YORK: Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is a goal that can be approached through dietary choices, according to recent research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The study identifies specific foods to include and avoid, emphasising recognised eating patterns such as the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets for cognitive health.
Best and worst eating patterns for Alzheimer’s risk
The Mediterranean diet, characterised by high consumption of olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, with moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, and alcohol, has gained recognition for supporting cognitive health.
Similarly, the DASH diet focuses on grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, with limited red meat and sweets. The MIND diet combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, emphasising olive oil, fish, whole grains, berries, and green leafy vegetables.
Conversely, the Western diet, marked by high fat, processed foods, and meat consumption, is associated with poor cognitive outcomes. This diet, lacking in fruits, vegetables, and essential nutrients, is characterised by 70% of calories originating from animal foods, oils, fats, and sweeteners.
Best foods to support brain health
While no single food guarantees immunity from Alzheimer’s, incorporating certain foods into one’s diet may contribute to maintaining brain health, particularly within established brain-supporting dietary patterns like the MIND diet.
Walnuts are highlighted for their lignan content, a unique plant compound believed to reduce neurodegeneration and inhibit inflammatory pathways in the brain.
Red, violet, or blue produce, rich in anthocyanins, can positively impact brain health by reducing oxidative stress and tau protein aggregation, key factors in Alzheimer’s.
Packed with nutrients, hazelnuts contain phenolic acid and flavonoids like quercetin, which may help decrease tau phosphorylation and reduce protein oxidation in the brain.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale provide folate, lutein, and vitamin K, supporting brain health by managing homocysteine levels and offering essential nutrients.
Coldwater oily fish, including salmon, offer DHA omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, known to reduce inflammation, provide antioxidant capabilities, and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Although not explicitly listed in the study, eggs are rich in choline and lutein, supporting brain health by potentially reducing harmful brain proteins and aiding neurotransmitter production.