A new study suggests that a diet initially designed to combat cognitive decline in adults may also improve attention in pre-adolescents. The study examined two diets: the Healthy Eating Index – 2015 (HEI-2015) and the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet. The MIND diet combines the Mediterranean and DASH diets and focuses on brain health by emphasizing fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes, along with specific foods like leafy greens and berries.

“We assessed how adherence to these diets was associated with children’s attentional inhibition -; the ability to resist distracting stimuli -; and found that only the MIND diet was positively linked with children’s performance on a task assessing attentional inhibition,” stated Shelby Keye, PhD, who performed the work as a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and will be an assistant professor there this fall. “This suggests that the MIND diet could have the potential to improve children’s cognitive development, which is important for success in school.”

The research, presented at NUTRITION 2023, an annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, analyzed data from a previous cross-sectional study involving 85 participants aged 7 to 11. The children completed a seven-day diet record from which HEI-2015 and MIND diet scores were calculated. They also participated in a task assessing attentional inhibition, with reaction time and accuracy measured. Children with neurological disorders were excluded from the study to minimize confounding factors.

The findings revealed that MIND diet scores, but not HEI-2015 scores, were positively correlated with the participants’ accuracy on the attention task. In other words, those who adhered more closely to the MIND diet performed better in the task. However, the study only showed an association, and further intervention studies would be needed to establish any causal relationship.

The researchers are interested in exploring the relationship between the MIND diet and attention in younger children, including preschoolers and toddlers, to determine if age and developmental factors play a role. This research could inform future dietary interventions aimed at improving cognitive function in children.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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