NYS Certified Nutritionist

Food Choices May Reduce Risk of Dementias

An excellent way to start a New Year is to strongly consider the results of a Canadian study printed in the peer reviewed Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging.

Researchers tested 8,500 Canadian participants, aged 45-85, evaluating their verbal fluency, while studying their eating patterns. Results of this study confirmed that following a Mediterranean-style diet maintained cognitive function in middle aged and older adults.

Consumption of generous amounts of vegetables, fruits, legumes [lentils, chickpeas, split peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, peanuts, etc.] and tree nuts [almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc.] was associated with higher verbal fluency test scores, an important measure of mental proficiency. Each daily increase of vegetable and fruit consumption was associated with even higher test scores. I would add, the deeper the color of the fruits and vegetables, the more nutritious they are likely to be.

Once again, I am reminded of the wisdom of the My Plate metaphor teaching tool suggested by the USDA. If one is determined to reduce health risks of all kinds, aim for the portions suggested by our US health experts. Half of each plate should be filled with vegetables [and possibly fruits], one quarter of the plate should contain a starch [like white or sweet potato with skin, bread, corn, peas, pasta, rice,…whole grains are best], and the last quarter of the plate should contain a good source of protein [like legumes, chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh, seitan and, infrequently, red meats]. It would also be wise to greatly reduce intake of fats especially butter, hard cheeses, and those in marbled meats.

Risk reduction, by choosing this style of eating, is an encouraging way to start the New Year. Here’s to your excellent health!

Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York’s Capital Region