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Plant-Based Diets Improve Cardiac Function and Cognitive Health | Nutrition Fit


Summary: Plant-based diets, such as the DASH diet and MIND diet, can reduce the risk of heart failure and ultimately decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Source: Boston University

What if you could improve your heart health and brain function by changing your diet? Boston University School of Medicine researchers have found that by eating more plant-based food such as berries and green leafy vegetables while limiting consumption of foods high in saturated fat and animal products, you can slow down heart failure (HF) and ultimately lower your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Heart failure (HF) affects over 6.5 million adults in the U.S. In addition to its detrimental effects on several organ systems, presence of HF is associated with higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Similarly, changes in cardiac structure and function (cardiac remodeling) that precede the appearance of HF are associated with poor cognitive function and cerebral health.

The adoption of diets, such as 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, whether a dietary pattern that emphasizes foods thought to promote the maintenance of neurocognitive health also mitigates changes in cardiac structure and function (cardiac remodeling) has been unclear until now.

The researchers found the MIND diet, which emphasizes 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 is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body.

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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.

This shows a salad
The researchers found the MIND diet, which emphasizes 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 is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body. Image is in the public domain

According to the researchers previous studies have highlighted the importance of diet as a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. “Our findings highlight the importance of adherence to the MIND diet for a better cardiovascular health and further reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the community,” explained corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics at BUSM and an Investigator for the Framingham Heart Study.

Although 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 adhere to healthy eating to help lower risk of disease and achieve better quality of life.

These findings appear online in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Funding: Funding for this study was provided by the NHLBI Multidisciplinary Training Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology (5T32HL125232) and the PRIMER Promoting Research In Medical Residency program (1R38HL143584), the American Heart Association (20CDA35310237), the NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study (Contract Nos. NO1-HC-25195, HHSN268201500001I, and 75N92019D00031; and P20 HL113444 and P30 DK020579. Dr. Vasan is supported in part by the Evans Medical Foundation and the Jay and Louis Coffman Endowment from the Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.

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About this diet and cognition research news

Source: Boston University
Contact: Gina DiGravio – Boston University
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
Associations of the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet with cardiac remodeling in the community: The Framingham Heart Study” by Vanessa Xanthakis et al. British Journal of Nutrition


Abstract

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Associations of the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet with cardiac remodeling in the community: The Framingham Heart Study

Normal cardiac function is directly associated with the maintenance of cerebrovascular health. Whether the Mediterranean-Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, designed for the maintenance of neurocognitive health, is associated with cardiac remodeling is unknown. We evaluated 2512 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants who attended the 8th examination cycle and had available dietary and echocardiographic data (mean age 66 years; 55% women).

Using multivariable regression, we related the cumulative MIND diet score (independent variable) to left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction, left atrial emptying fraction, LV mass (LVM), E/e’ ratio (dependent variables; primary), global longitudinal strain, global circumferential strain (GCS), mitral annular plane systolic excursion, longitudinal segmental synchrony, LV hypertrophy, and aortic root diameter (secondary). Adjusting for age, sex, and energy intake, higher cumulative MIND diet scores were associated with lower values of indices of LV diastolic (E/e’ ratio: logβ=-0.03) and systolic function (GCS: β=-0.04), and with higher values of LVM (logβ=0.02), all P≤0.01.

We observed effect modification by age in the association between the cumulative MIND diet score and GCS. When we further adjusted for clinical risk factors, the associations of the cumulative MIND diet score with GCS in participants ≥66 years (β=-0.06, P=0.005) and LVM remained significant. In our community-based sample, relations between the cumulative MIND diet score and cardiac remodeling differ among indices of LV structure and function.

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Our results suggest that favorable associations between a higher cumulative MIND diet score and indices of LV function may be influenced by cardiometabolic and lifestyle risk factors.



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