May 6, 2021

Dietary Phenolic Acids and Their Major Food Sources Are Associated with Cognitive Status in Older Italian Adults

J Godos et a, 2021. Dietary Phenolic Acids and Their Major Food Sources Are Associated with Cognitive Status in Older Italian Adults, Antioxidants, Volume 10 (5).


Background: Life expectancy is increasing along with the rising prevalence of cognitive disorders. Among the factors that may contribute to their prevalence, modifiable risk factors such as diet may be of primary importance. Unarguably, plant-based diets rich in bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, showed their potential in decreasing risk of neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to investigate whether exposure to components of plant-based diets, namely phenolic acids, may affect cognitive status in older Italian adults.

Methods: The demographic, lifestyle and dietary habits of a sample of individuals living in southern Italy were analyzed. Dietary intake was assessed through food frequency questionnaires (FFQs). Data on the phenolic acids content in foods were estimated using the Phenol-Explorer database. Cognitive status was evaluated using The Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess the associations.

Results: The mean intake of phenolic acids was 346.6 mg/d. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, individuals in the highest quartile of total phenolic acid intake were less likely to have impaired cognitive status (OR = 0.36 (95% CI: 0.14, 0.92)); similarly, the analysis for subclasses of phenolic acids showed the beneficial effect toward cognitive status of greater intake of hydroxycinnamic acids (OR = 0.35 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.91)). Among individual compounds, only higher intake of caffeic acid was inversely associated with impaired cognitive status (OR = 0.32 (95% CI: 0.11, 0.93)); notably, the association with ferulic acid intake was significant only when adjusting for background characteristics, and not for adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

Conclusions: This study revealed that greater intakes of dietary phenolic acids were significantly inversely associated with impaired cognition, emphasizing the possible role of phenolic acids in the prevention of cognitive disorders.

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