Dietary patterns, cognitive decline, and dementia: a systematic review

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Nutrition is an important modifiable risk factor that plays a role in the strategy to prevent or delay the onset of dementia. Research on nutritional effects has until now mainly focused on the role of individual nutrients and bioactive components. However, the evidence for combined effects, such as multinutrient approaches, or a healthy dietary pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, is growing. These approaches incorporate the complexity of the diet and possible interaction and synergy between nutrients. Over the past few years, dietary patterns have increasingly been investigated to better understand the link between diet, cognitive decline, and dementia. In this systematic review we provide an overview of the literature on human studies up to May 2014 that examined the role of dietary patterns (derived both a priori as well as a posteriori) in relation to cognitive decline or dementia. The results suggest that better adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with less cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer disease, as shown by 4 of 6 cross-sectional studies, 6 of 12 longitudinal studies, 1 trial, and 3 meta-analyses. Other healthy dietary patterns, derived both a priori (e.g., Healthy Diet Indicator, Healthy Eating Index, and Program National Nutrition Santé guideline score) and a posteriori (e.g., factor analysis, cluster analysis, and reduced rank regression), were shown to be associated with reduced cognitive decline and/or a reduced risk of dementia as shown by all 6 cross-sectional studies and 6 of 8 longitudinal studies. More conclusive evidence is needed to reach more targeted and detailed guidelines to prevent or postpone cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-168
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • healthy eating index
  • mediterranean diet
  • alzheimers-disease
  • nutritional epidemiology
  • stop hypertension
  • physical-activity
  • randomized-trial
  • cluster-analysis
  • elderly-people
  • blood-pressure


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