Alzheimer’s disease is a concern for aging adults, especially for Black Americans who are two to three times more likely to develop it. Specific eating patterns have been found to be associated with reduced Alzheimer’s risk (as well as other health benefits, like lower blood pressure). One of these is the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which incorporates plant-based foods, nuts/seeds, berries, fish, and healthy fats. Yet completely overhauling one’s diet is easier said than done, even when doing so would benefit one’s health. A recent article explored Black Americans’ attitudes and barriers to eating cognitively beneficial diets, using a community-engaged research approach.
Thirty-nine study participants self-identified as Black or African American and were over the age of 55. Participants completed a short survey and participated in an in-person focus group. During the group sessions, they were asked questions such as “What would a brain-healthy diet look like for the Black community?” Researchers conducted a qualitative analysis to identify common themes that emerged. Results indicated that most participants (89.7%) were interested in receiving more Alzheimer’s-related health information. Reported barriers to eating healthier included taste and cost, as well as lack of time and information about health benefits.
Several key themes emerged from the focus groups. Specifically, participants noted lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their communities, and that healthier foods tend to cost more than their less healthy, processed counterparts. Taste was also a concern, with participants noting that healthfully prepared food tended to taste blander. Ideas for solutions included more education about where to acquire healthy foods on a budget and demonstrations on how to prepare healthy food in a tastier way (e.g., learning more about spices). This study highlighted ways that getting buy-in from specific groups (e.g., Black Americans) may make them more open and able to adopt healthier dietary habits.
Diet can play an important role in physical and cognitive health, but dietary change doesn’t happen overnight! It can be beneficial to learn more about ways to adapt healthy eating principles to your budget, culture, and taste preferences.
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Shaw, A. R., Key, M. N., Fikru, S., Lofton, S., Sullivan, D. K., Berkley-Patton, J., … & Vidoni, E. D. (2023). Development of a Culturally Adapted Dietary Intervention to Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk among Older Black Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(17), 6705. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10488073/.