Following a plant-based diet while limiting consumption of foods high in saturated fat and animal products, can slow down heart failure (HF) and ultimately lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine found.
Heart failure (HF) affects over 6.5 million adults in the US. In addition to its detrimental effects on several organ systems, the presence of HF is associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Similarly, changes in cardiac structure and function that precede the appearance of HF are associated with poor cognitive function and cerebral health.
The adoption of diets, like the Mediterranean diet (MIND) and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which are characterized by high intakes of plant-based foods are among lifestyle recommendations for the prevention of HF.
However, if a dietary pattern that emphasizes foods thought to promote the maintenance of neurocognitive health also mitigates changes in cardiac structure and function has been unclear until now.
The findings that appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition, shows that the MIND diet, which highlights the consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables while limiting intakes of foods high in saturated fat and animal products, positively benefited the hearts’ left ventricular function which pumps oxygenated blood throughout the body.
The researchers evaluated the dietary and echocardiographic data of 2,512 participants of the Framingham Heart Study (Offspring Cohort), compared their MIND diet score to measures of cardiac structure and function and observed that a dietary pattern that emphasizes foods thought to promote the maintenance of neurocognitive health also mitigates cardiac remodeling.
Previous studies have highlighted the importance of diet as a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, while “our findings highlight the importance of adherence to the MIND diet for better cardiovascular health,” explained corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics at BUSM and an Investigator for the Framingham Heart Study.
Although Ms. Xanthakis acknowledges that following a healthy diet may not always be easy or fit with today’s busy schedules, people should make a concerted effort to stick to healthy eating to help lower the risk of disease and achieve a better quality of life.