Alzheimer's DementiaDiet-NutritionElderly

DASH diet and its effect on cognitive decline

 The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salt, sweets, and red meats.

During the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers from Utah State University, in Logan reported it appears to slow cognitive decline — if you can stick with it.

First, the details.

  • 3,831 people over the age of 65 years were monitored for 11 years.
  • Participants received a score based on how closely they followed the diet.
  • They were then divided into 5 groups based on adherence to the diet.
  • Cognitive (reasoning) function was tested 4 times during the 11 years using the Modified Mini Mental State Examination.

And, the results.

  • None of the participants were able to follow the diet 100%.
  • There was a significant difference between the most vs least diet-adherent participants in their Modified Mini Mental State Examination scores.
  • 4 of the 9 food-group/nutrient components used to create the DASH score were independently associated with significantly higher Modified Mini Mental State Examination scores — vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nut/legumes.

The bottom line?

The researchers concluded, “Our results suggest that including whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts in one’s diet may offer benefits for cognition in late life.”

In an observational study such as this, additional, more rigorously designed research is needed to confirm the results.

More about the benefits of the DASH diet is discussed here.

8/3/09 20:46 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.