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Diet linked to dementia risk

13th November 2007

French researchers say that eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, fish, and certain types of oils appears to be linked to a reduced risk of dementia as people age.

fishandsoybeans

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers tested around 8,000 people aged 65 and over for dementia, and then tested them once annually for dementia for the next four years. They also asked them detailed questions about their diet.

The follow-up tests picked up 281 new cases of dementia, most of them Alzheimer's disease.

They found a strong correlation between the diet of participants and the incidence of dementia.

Eating fish at least once a week, eating fruit and vegetables every day, and using certain oils, including walnut oil, soy oil or colza oil, were the three factors with the strongest link to a lower risk of developing dementia, they found.

Eating fruit and vegetables daily was associated with 28% less likelihood of developing dementia, which was 40% less common in those who ate fish once a week. People who have regular amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were also associated with a lower incidence of dementia.

However, higher levels of omega-6 oils like sunflower and grapeseed oils - without some regular intake of omega-3 oils to balance it - was associated with a higher incidence of dementia.

The dietary influences were just as strong after researchers had controlled for other risk factors for dementia.

But while observational studies can make links between certain dietary habits and certain outcomes, there is nothing in the study which points to the cause of the linkage.

Diet may be considered instead alongside other risk factors for dementia.


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