A 2015 study that links a healthy diet with a lower risk of cognitive decline gives us yet another reason to watch what we eat. Published in Neurology, the international study rated the eating habits and measured the cognitive function of 27,860 men and women who were at risk for cardiovascular disease. The study didn't focus on the impact of any one diet on cognitive function; rather, researchers rated diets based on the amount of “healthy” foods (such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish) and “unhealthy” foods (such as red meat) they contained in order to evaluate the overall health of a participant’s diet. After tracking the participants for nearly five years, researchers discovered that:
Participants eating the healthiest diets had a 24% lower risk of cognitive decline compared with participants eating less healthily. Participants eating the healthiest diets were also found to more active, to have lower BMIs, and to be less likely to smoke, although the researchers accounted for some of these factors in drawing their conclusions.
This study's findings support a wealth of previous research on the positive effects that a healthy diet (such as the Mediterranean diet), and even individual fruits and vegetables (such as blueberries and spinach), can have on cognitive function.