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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Whitney Wharton, PhD, Assistant Professor, Neurology, Emory University, w.wharton@emory.edu

All persons who have made substantial contributions to this manuscript are listed as authors.

Alexandra C. Nutaitis, BS: Designed research, Conducted research, Analyzed data, Wrote paper, Had primary responsibility for final content.

Sonum D. Tharwani: Conducted research, Wrote paper.

Monica C. Serra, PhD: Provided essential reagents or materials, Analyzed data, Wrote paper.

Felicia C. Goldstein, PhD: Designed research, Wrote paper.

Liping Zhao, MSPH: Provided essential reagents or materials, Analyzed data, Wrote paper.

Salman S. Sher, MD: Conducted research, Provided essential reagents or materials, Analyzed data, Wrote paper.

Danielle D. Verble, MA: Conducted research, Wrote paper.

Whitney Wharton, PhD: Designed research, Conducted research, Analyzed data, Wrote paper Had primary responsibility for final content.

No author has a conflict of interest to report.


Research Funding:

This project was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and in part by the Scholarly Independent Research at Emory (SIRE) Research grant for undergraduate students.

NIH-NIA under grants: NIH-NIA 5 P50 AG025688, K01AG042498, and U01 AG016976.

Independent funding for the present pilot study was obtained through Emory University’s Scholarly Inquiry Research Grant for undergraduate students (PI: Nutaitis).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • diet
  • African-American
  • prevention
  • nutrition
  • race
  • cognition
  • vascular
  • RACE

Diet as a Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline in African Americans and Caucasians with a Parental History of Alzheimer's Disease: A Cross-Sectional Pilot Study Dietary Patterns


Journal Title:

The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease


Volume 6, Number 1


, Pages 50-55

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


BACKGROUND: African Americans (AA) are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) than Caucasians (CC). Dietary modification may have the potential to reduce the risk of developing AD. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between Southern and Prudent diet patterns and cognitive performance in individuals at risk for developing AD. DESIGN: Cross-sectional observational study. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-six cognitively normal AA and CC individuals aged 46-77 years with a parental history of AD were enrolled. MEASUREMENTS: Participants completed a Food Frequency questionnaire, cognitive function testing, which consisted of 8 neuropsychological tests, and cardiovascular risk factor assessments, including evaluation of microvascular and macrovascular function and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. RESULTS: Results revealed a relationship between the Southern diet and worse cognitive performance among AAs. AAs who consumed pies, mashed potatoes, tea, and sugar drinks showed worse cognitive performance (p<0.05) compared with CCs. In addition, gravy (p=0.06) and cooking oil/fat (p=0.06) showed negative trends with cognitive performance in AAs. In both CC and AA adults, greater adherence to a Prudent dietary pattern was associated with better cognitive outcomes. Cardiovascular results show that participants are overall healthy. AAs and CCs did not differ on any vascular measure including BP, arterial stiffness and endothelial function. CONCLUSION: Research shows that dietary factors can associate with cognitive outcomes. This preliminary cross-sectional study suggests that foods characteristic of the Southern and Prudent diets may have differential effects on cognitive function in middle-aged individuals at high risk for AD. Results suggest that diet could be a non-pharmaceutical tool to reduce cognitive decline in racially diverse populations. It is possible that the increased prevalence of AD in AA could be partially reduced via diet modification.

Copyright information:

© The Author(s) 2018

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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