Food for Thought: Eating for Cognitive Health

VegetablesNo matter where someone is in the spectrum of life-from baby to Baby Boomer, and everywhere in between-cognitive health is an important consideration. Our lifestyles can have a tremendous impact on our cognitive health and risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.


Overall Goals for Cognitive Health


Research has shown that you can help prevent cognitive decline by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, controlling risk factors for other diseases, and maintaining an active lifestyle.

  • If you are uncertain what a healthy weight is for you, speak with a Registered Dietitian or other qualified healthcare provider. Even if it takes months or years to reach a healthy weight, every step you take towards achieving a healthier weight and lifestyle will be beneficial for your overall health.
  • Control the following risk factors including: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Speak with your doctor about what your current risk factors are and how to reduce your risk.
  • For most people, maintaining an active lifestyle means participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Talk with your doctor about what types of activity you are safely able to engage in. You don't need to belong to a gym or start out exercising seven days a week; even walking around the neighborhood or playing ball with your children or grandchildren is a great start!


Key Foods to Include

While there are individual foods that have been shown to benefit cognitive health, an eating pattern similar to the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to be most beneficial for reducing overall risk for chronic disease. Higher adherence to a Mediterranean-style eating pattern has also been associated with slower cognitive decline.


The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes large amounts of vegetables, fruit, and vegetarian proteins; moderate amounts of whole grains, cheese, and yogurt; and small amounts of meat and poultry. It also includes regular use of fish, olive oil, and nuts, for good sources of unsaturated fat.


1. Today's Dietitian "Nutrition for Cognitive Health."
2. Knopman, D. Mediterranean diet and late-life cognitive impairment: A taste of benefit. JAMA. 2009;302(6):686-687