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Highly Processed Foods Linked to Accelerated Cognitive Decline

Too many daily calories from highly processed foods like lunch meats, frozen dinners, and packaged cookies may speed up cognitive decline, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers examined the diets and cognitive function test results of more than 8,000 adults in Brazil. At the start of the study, participants consumed an average of about 2,850 calories a day. About 28 percent of their daily calories came from highly processed foods.

After about nine years of follow-up, cognitive test scores for memory and executive function declined the most for participants who ate the most highly processed foods, according to preliminary study results presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held July 31–August 4 in San Diego.

“There is growing evidence that what we eat can impact our brains as we age, and many studies suggest it is best for our brain to eat a heart-healthy, balanced diet low in processed foods and high in whole, nutritional foods like vegetables and fruits,” says Percy Griffin, PhD, the director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association.

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