Background: Adherence to the Mediterranean-DASH for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet has previously been associated with cognitive decline and dementia. To our knowledge, no prior study has investigated the association between the MIND diet and measures of brain volume, silent brain infarcts (SBIs), or brain atrophy.
Objective: We evaluated whether adherence to the MIND diet associated with superior cognitive function, larger brain volumes, fewer SBIs, and less cognitive decline in the community-based Framingham Heart Study.
Methods: 2,092 participants (mean±SD, age 61±9) completed Food Frequency Questionnaires, averaged across a maximum of 3-time points (examination cycles 5, 6, and 7), cognitive testing at examination cycle 7 (present study baseline: 1998-2001) and after a mean±SD of 6.6±1.1 years from baseline (n = 1,584). A subset of participants also completed brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at examination cycle 7 (n = 1,904). In addition, participants with dementia, stroke, and other relevant neurological diseases such as significant head trauma, subdural hematoma, or multiple sclerosis were excluded from the analyses.
Results: Higher MIND diet scores were associated with better global cognitive function (β±SE,+0.03SD±0.01; p = 0.004), verbal memory, visual memory, processing speed, verbal comprehension/reasoning, and with larger total brain volume (TBV) following adjustments for clinical, lifestyle and demographic covariates, but not with other brain MRI measures (i.e., hippocampal volume, lateral ventricular volume, white matter hyperintensity volume, and SBIs) or cognitive decline.
Conclusion: Higher MIND diet scores associated with better cognitive performance and larger TBV at baseline, but not with cognitive decline. Clinical trials are needed to ascertain whether adopting the MIND diet affects trajectories of cognitive decline.
Keywords: Apolipoprotein ɛ4; MIND diet; brain volume; cognition; dietary pattern; framingham heart study; silent brain infarcts.