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2023 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant (AARG)

The Role of Diet in Dementia Prevention

Could eating a certain diet help prevent Alzheimer’s?

Emily Johnston, M.P.H., Ph.D.
New York University Grossman School of Medicine
New York, NY - United States


A healthy diet has many benefits for the brain and body, and recent research suggests certain diets have the potential to improve cognition. One of these diets is called the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet which was specifically developed to reduce cognitive decline by combining aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the hypertension-limiting DASH diet. The MIND diet emphasizes eating a plant-rich diet including fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, olive oil, and leafy greens and berries, as well as seafood and poultry. . By administering a  short 15-question survey, researchers can understand how well individuals with dementia adhere to the MIND-diet.

Research Plan

Dr. Emily Johnston and colleagues will begin to collect  dietary measurements to ongoing efforts being conducted at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at New York University. The researchers plan to administer the MIND survey to 150 individuals , and test associations between MIND scores and existing cognitive data. The researchers will also measure carotenoid levels, which are found in fruits and vegetables, in the participants and test associations between carotenoid levels and an individual’s cognition. Finally, the researchers will determine if higher MIND-diet survey scores are associated with higher carotenoid levels. Dr. Johnston’s long-term goal is to use the MIND survey to collect dietary data from individuals over time, and plan interventions to improve diet quality.


This study offers a non-invasive way to screen and assess an individual’s dietary choices. Strategies used in this study might be used in research, registries, patient care, or as part of interventions designed to reduce modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

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