If you want to maintain your mental health in old age and ward off cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, put down the frozen pizza, and eat your vegetables.
In yet another study looking at the the dietary role of aging gracefully, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found that people who consumed diets high in trans fats were more likely to have brain shrinkage and scored lower on thinking and memory tests, compared to people who followed a healthy diet, low in trans fats and high in vitamins.
Trans fats are found primarily in frozen, packaged, fast foods, baked goods and margarine spreads.
Conversely, people who followed diets that were high in a range of vitamins like C, D, E and B or omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to have brain shrinkage and scored higher on mental thinking tests.
The study was published December 28 in the online issue of Neurology.
Researchers studied 104 subjects who averaged 87 years of age and drew blood samples to determine the levels of nutrients in the body -- the first study to do so, researchers said. Previous studies either looked at isolated nutrients or relied on questionnaires and self-reporting to assess people’s diets.
Scientists also scanned the brains of 42 participants to measure brain volume and found that those who had high vitamin levels had larger brains, while those with high trans fats were prone to shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s.
This study corroborates the findings of another report published last year by a team of scientists at Columbia University Medical Center in New York who found that one dietary pattern was significantly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease: high intakes of salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, fruits, cruciferous and dark, green leafy vegetables, and low intakes of high-fat dairy, red and organ meat, and butter.
Meanwhile, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish, while B vitamins and antioxidants C and E are found in fruits and vegetables.