As nutrition is one of the modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline, we studied the relationship between dietary quality and clinical characteristics in cognitively normal individuals with subjective cognitive decline (SCD). We included 165 SCD subjects (age: 64 ± 8 years; 45% female) from the SCIENCe project, a prospective memory clinic based cohort study on SCD. The Dutch Healthy Diet Food Frequency Questionnaire (DHD-FFQ) was used to assess adherence to Dutch guidelines on vegetable, fruit, fibers, fish, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, salt and alcohol intake (item score 0-10, higher score indicating better adherence). We measured global cognition (Mini Mental State Examination), cognitive complaints (Cognitive Change Index self-report; CCI) and depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; CES-D). Using principal component analysis, we identified dietary components and investigated their relation to clinical characteristics using linear regression models adjusted for age, sex and education. We identified three dietary patterns: (i) "low-Fat-low-Salt", (ii) "high-Veggy", and (iii) "low-Alcohol-low-Fish". Individuals with lower adherence on "low-Fat-low-Salt" had more depressive symptoms (β -0.18 (-2.27--0.16)). Higher adherence to "high-Veggy" was associated with higher MMSE scores (β 0.30 (0.21-0.64)). No associations were found with the low-Alcohol-low-Fish component. We showed that in SCD subjects, dietary quality was related to clinically relevant outcomes. These findings could be useful to identify individuals that might benefit most from nutritional prevention strategies to optimize brain health.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cognition; memory clinic; nutrition; prevention; subjective cognitive decline.