Eating a heart-healthy diet beginning in your 20s may provide brain benefits in middle age, research suggests. The study, in Neurology, ranked 2,621 people on their degree of adherence to three diets. All emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains: the Mediterranean diet, which involves mainly plant-based foods and moderate alcohol intake; a diet plan that rates food groups as favorable or not; and the DASH diet, which stresses low-sodium foods but does not consider alcohol. Researchers tracked diet compliance at ages 25, 32 and 45, and tested mental acuity at 50 and 55. People with the strictest adherence to the Mediterranean or the food group diet had a 46 to 52 percent lower risk of poor cognitive function. The DASH diet was not associated with cognitive test scores.

Watching a lot of TV may affect memory

A new study may have you questioning your TV time. A British study, in Scientific Reports, included 3,590 people, average age 67. Participants took two tests. One was of verbal memory, in which they were asked to recall a list of spoken words. The second tested semantic fluency, in which researchers timed them naming as many animals as they could. Researchers administered the tests six years apart. They found that people who watched more than 3½ hours of television a day had an average decrease of 8 to 10 percent in their verbal memory scores, compared with a 4 to 5 percent decrease in those who watched less. There was no association of TV watching with semantic fluency. “This is not something to worry about,” said the lead author, Daisy Fancourt, a researcher at University College London. “But … it’s worth trying to engage in social and physical activities and things that are mentally challenging.”

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