A link has been found between specific foods and cognitive function in later years.
Researchers from the Iowa State University say regular consumption of cheese and red wine seems to have a positive impact on the brain.
The trial involved studying data from 1,787 adults aged between 46 and 77. They were asked to complete a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT).
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This is a 10-minute test which has been developed to assess the ability to think logically and solve problems in new situations. Follow-up assessments on all the volunteers were carried out several times over the course of the study.
Participants were also asked to answer questions about their food and alcohol consumption.
The Food Frequency Questionnaire monitored their intake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and champaign and other alcohol.
In addition to cheese and a daily intake of red wine protectong against age-related cognitive problems in later life, other significant findings were discovered.
Eating lamb on a weekly basis, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess. Eating a lot of salt did not have a positive outcome, but only for those who were already deemed at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Lead researcher Dr Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State, said: “I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down.
“While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomised clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”
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Fellow researcher Brandon Klinedinst added: “Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimers, while other seem to be at greater risk.
“That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether. Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat. Knowing what that entails contributes to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and putting this disease in a reverse trajectory.”
The research has been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.