Association of Long-Term Adherence to the MIND Diet with Cognitive Function and Cognitive Decline in American Women

J Nutr Health Aging. 2018;22(2):222-229. doi: 10.1007/s12603-017-0909-0.


Objectives: There is increasing attention for dietary patterns as a potential strategy to prevent cognitive decline. We examined the association between adherence to a recently developed Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet with cognitive function and cognitive decline, taking into account the interaction between the apolipoprotein E ε4 genotype and the MIND diet.

Design: Population-based prospective cohort study.

Participants: A total of 16,058 older women aged 70 and over from the Nurses' Health Study.

Measurements: Dietary intake was assessed five times between 1984 and 1998 with a 116-item Food Frequency Questionnaire. The MIND score includes ten brain-healthy foods and five unhealthy foods. Cognition was assessed four times by telephone from 1995 to 2001 (baseline) with the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) and by calculating composite scores of verbal memory and global cognition. Linear regression modelling and linear mixed modelling were used to examine the associations of adherence to the MIND diet with average cognitive function and cognitive change over six years, respectively.

Results: Greater long-term adherence to the MIND diet was associated with a better verbal memory score (multivariable-adjusted mean differences between extreme MIND quintiles=0.04 (95%CI 0.01-0.07), p-trend=0.006), but not with cognitive decline over 6 years in global cognition, verbal memory or TICS.

Conclusion: Long-term adherence to the MIND diet was moderately associated with better verbal memory in later life. Future studies should address this association within populations at greater risk of cognitive decline.

Keywords: Cognition; DASH; MIND; Mediterranean; dietary pattern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States