December 30, 2011
Study Reveals Heart Healthy Diet Improves Brain Function
A new study shows that eating a diet high in certain vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids improves brain function.
Older people who ate this diet were found to have less brain shrinkage, which is linked to Alzheimer´s disease. The participants also had higher scores on mental acuity tests than participants who ate a diet high in trans fats, which are found in packaged baked goods and fast foods like crackers and potato chips.
Recent studies have shown that a heart healthy diet is good for brain function, but this study was different in that the researchers used blood tests to determine the nutrient levels in the participant´s blood.
Study author Gene L. Bowman, ND, MPH, assistant professor of neurology at the Layton Aging and Alzheimer´s Disease Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland said, “The combination of the B vitamins, the antioxidants C and E, plus vitamin D was the most favorable combination of nutrients in the blood for healthy brain aging in our population.”
CBSNews.com notes that B vitamins are found in a variety of foods like dairy, whole grain cereals, enriched bread and peanut butter. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables, E is in nuts and oils and Vitamin D is found in the flesh of fatty fish like salmon and also in milk.
The study consisted of 104 people with an average age of 87 with no risk factors for memory or mental acuity. The blood tests checked 30 different biomarkers in the blood. Forty-two participants had MRI scans to measure brain volume.
Several different demographic and lifestyle habits were examined including age, gender, education, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, and body mass index. The researchers found that much of the variation in mental performance depended on age or education, but nutrient status accounted for 17 percent of thinking and memory scores and 37 percent of the variation in brain size.
The research is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
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