Alternate Healthy Eating Index is Positively Associated with Cognitive Function Among Middle-Aged and Older Hispanics/Latinos in the HCHS/SOL

J Nutr. 2020 Jun 1;150(6):1478-1487. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa023.


Background: Diet quality may be an important area of focus for promoting cognitive health; however, the association between diet quality and cognitive function among Hispanics/Latinos remains largely unexamined. We hypothesized that a healthier diet quality will be associated with better cognitive function in middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010), a measure of diet quality, and cognitive function in middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos.

Methods: Data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) Visit 1 (2008-2011) were used (n = 8461; ages 45-74 y). Cognitive function was assessed with tests of verbal learning and memory, verbal fluency, and processing speed; a global cognition score was derived by summing the z scores of individual tests. Dietary intake was assessed via two 24-h recalls. Total AHEI-2010 score was categorized into quintiles (higher quintiles indicating healthier diet). Linear regression models were used to examine associations between AHEI-2010 quintiles and cognitive function adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, daily energy intake, type 2 diabetes, smoking, and depressive symptoms.

Results: Compared with the lowest quintile, in the second to fourth AHEI-2010 quintiles, global cognition scores were significantly higher by 0.28, 0.52, and 0.48 units (P-trend = 0.042). In the second to fifth AHEI-2010 quintiles, verbal learning scores were significantly higher by 0.60, 0.62, 0.92, and 0.88 units, and verbal memory scores were higher by 0.33, 0.40, 0.52, and 0.46 units (P-trend = 0.020 and 0.007, respectively). No associations were observed between the AHEI-2010 and verbal fluency or processing speed (P-trend = 0.49 and 0.84, respectively). Among AHEI-2010 components, adequate consumption of vegetables, alcohol, and whole fruits were each associated with better cognitive function.

Conclusions: An overall healthier diet quality was associated with better global cognition, verbal learning, and verbal memory in middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos.

Keywords: AHEI-2010; HCHS/SOL; Hispanics; Latinos; cognitive function; diet quality; dietary pattern; minority health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States