Higher consumption of whole grains may slow cognitive decline in African-American individuals. The corresponding study was published in Neurology.
Studies indicate that African Americans are twice as likely to have dementia than White Americans. Research into preventative measures and treatments for this demographic could reduce their disease burden from dementia.
In the current study, researchers analyzed data from 3,326 people. Among them, 60.1% were African American, and 63.7% were female. They were an average age of 75 years old at the start of the study and were followed for an average of 6.1 years.
Over the study period, they filled in a food questionnaire every three years and completed cognitive and memory tests. They were then split into five groups according to whole grain consumption- the lowest-consumption group ate less than half a serving per day, while the highest group ate around 2.5 servings per day.
Ultimately, the researchers found that higher consumption of whole grains was linked to slower decline in global cognition, perceptual speed, and episodic memory among African-American participants. A press release from the journal reported that the lower rates of memory decline were equivalent to being 8.5 years younger than those who ate smaller amounts.
The same relationship, however, was not seen in White individuals. Nevertheless, they noted a ‘suggestive association’ in this demographic between whole grains and global cognitive decline among those eating more than three servings of whole grains per day compared to those who consumed less than one serving daily.
While the study shows an association between eating more whole grains and slower memory decline, it does not prove causation. Additionally, the results may be limited due to their basis on a food frequency questionnaire, which relies on self-reports.
Study author Xiaoran Liu, Ph.D., MSc, of Rush University in Chicago, said in a press release that more large studies are needed to validate the findings and to further investigate the effect of whole grains in different demographics. She added that the results could nevertheless help medical professionals tailor diet recommendations.