MIND Diet, Common Brain Pathologies, and Cognition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;83(2):683-692. doi: 10.3233/JAD-210107.


Background: MIND diet, a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, is associated with a slower cognitive decline and lower risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia in older adults.

Objective: We aim to examine whether the association of the MIND diet with cognition is independent of common brain pathologies.

Methods: Utilizing data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), a longitudinal clinical-pathologic study, we studied 569 decedents with valid dietary data, cognitive testing proximate to death, and complete autopsy data at the time of these analyses. A series of regression analyses were used to examine associations of the MIND diet, dementia-related brain pathologies, and global cognition proximate to death adjusting for age, sex, education, APOEɛ4, late-life cognitive activities, and total energy intake.

Results: A higher MIND diet score was associated with better global cognitive functioning proximate to death (β= 0.119, SE = 0.040, p = 0.003), and neither the strength nor the significance of association changed substantially when AD pathology and other brain pathologies were included in the model. The β-estimate after controlling for global AD pathology was 0.111 (SE = 0.037, p = 0.003). The MIND diet-cognition relationship remained significant when we restricted our analysis to individuals without mild cognitive impairment at the baseline (β= 0.121, SE = 0.042, p = 0.005) or in people diagnosed with postmortem diagnosis of AD based on NIA-Reagan consensus recommendations (β= 0.114, SE = 0.050, p = 0.023).

Conclusion: MIND diet is associated with better cognitive functioning independently of common brain pathology, suggesting that the MIND diet may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly.

Keywords: Amyloid-β; MIND diet; brain pathology; cognition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Chicago
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Amyloid