Adherence to Mediterranean diet and subjective cognitive function in men

Abstract

Benefits of a Mediterranean diet for cognition have been suggested, but epidemiologic studies have been relatively small and of limited duration. To prospectively assess the association between long-term adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern and self-reported subjective cognitive function (SCF). Prospective observational study. The Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, a prospective cohort of 51,529 men, 40–75 years of age when enrolled in 1986, of whom 27,842 were included in the primary analysis. Mediterranean diet (MD) score, computed from the mean of five food frequency questionnaires, assessed every 4 years from 1986 to 2002. Self-reported SCF assessed by a 6-item questionnaire in 2008 and 2012, and validated by association with genetic variants in apolipoprotein-4. Using the average of 2008 and 2012 SCF scores, 38.0% of men were considered to have moderate memory scores and 7.3% were considered to have poor scores. In a multivariate model, compared with men having a MD score in the lowest quintile, those in the highest quintile had a 36% lower odds of a poor SCF score (odds ratio 0.64, 95% CI 0.55–0.75; P, trend < 0.001) and a 24% lower odds of a moderate SCF score (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.70–0.83; P, trend < 0.001). Both remote and more recent diet contributed to this relation. Associations were only slightly weaker using baseline dietary data and a lag of 22 years. Long-term adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern was strongly related to lower subjective cognitive function. These findings provide further evidence that a healthy dietary pattern may prevent or delay cognitive decline.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (UM1CA167552) and an anonymous gift to the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. The funding agencies had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ambika Bhushan.

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Bhushan, A., Fondell, E., Ascherio, A. et al. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and subjective cognitive function in men. Eur J Epidemiol 33, 223–234 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0330-3

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Keywords

  • Mediterranean diet
  • Subjective cognitive function
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Subjective cognitive decline
  • Alzheimer’s disease