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Whole Grain Foods Could Help Black Seniors Avoid Alzheimer's
  • Posted November 27, 2023

Whole Grain Foods Could Help Black Seniors Avoid Alzheimer's

Whole grains could be the key to Black people protecting their brains against aging and dementia, a new study reports.

Black folks who ate more foods with whole grains appeared to have a slower rate of memory decline than those who ate fewer whole grains, according to findings published Nov. 23 in the journal Neurology.

Among Black people, those who ate the most whole grains had brains about 8.5 years younger than those who ate the least.

Whole grains only appeared to help Black people -- researchers saw no similar trend in white participants.

“With Alzheimer's disease and dementia affecting millions of Americans, finding ways to prevent the disease is a high public health priority,” researcher Xiaoran Liu, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush University in Chicago, said in a journal news release.

“It's exciting to see that people could potentially lower their risk of dementia by increasing their diet of whole grains by a couple of servings a day,” Liu added.

For the study, researchers followed more than 3,300 people without dementia (average age: 75). About 3 out of 5 participants were Black.

Participants filled out a questionnaire every three years about the whole grains they ate, and they also completed brain games and memory tests.

Researchers divided participants into five groups based on the amount of whole grains in their diet. The highest group ate 2.7 servings per day, while the lowest consumed less than half a serving daily.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least three servings of whole grains a day, researchers noted. One serving is equivalent to a slice of bread, a half cup of cooked pasta or rice, an ounce of crackers or a cup of dry cereal.

About 67% of Black participants had more than one serving a day, compared with 38% of white participants.

Researchers found that Black people with the highest intake of whole grains -- more than three servings a day -- declined mentally more slowly than those who ate less then one.

“These results could help medical professionals make tailored diet recommendations,” Liu said. “More large studies are needed to validate our findings and to further investigate the effect of whole grains on cognition in different racial groups.”

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about whole grains.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Nov. 22, 2023

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