Your love of wine, cheese could ward off cognitive decline, study says

While it’s important to be active and eat foods that will give you the proper nutrients, most people don’t want to give up their favorite indulgences.

If the occasional glass of wine or a melty grilled cheese is one of the things you enjoy, a new study may offer a new reason to love them.

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The results of an Iowa State University research study, which were announced in a press release Wednesday, have shown that more wine and cheese in your diet could protect against cognitive decline.

Led investigator, Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Brandon Klinedinst, a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate working in the same department, conducted the study. They evaluated data gathered from 1,787 U.K. adults who ranged in age from 46 to 77 by the end of the study. The data was obtained from the large-scale database and research resource, U.K. Biobank.

At baseline, participants used a touchscreen questionnaire to complete a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT), which provided an in-the-moment picture of an individual’s ability to “think on the fly.” Then, they completed it again in two follow-up assessments, one of which was conducted from 2012 through 2013 and the other between 2015 and 2016.

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Additionally, participants took the Food Frequency Questionnaire to answer questions about the food and alcohol they consumed at baseline and at two follow-up assessments. The survey included questions about participants’ consumption of items including fruit, vegetables, and fish prepared a variety of ways as well as poultry, meats, cheese, bread, tea, beer, coffee wine and other alcohols.

Several significant discoveries emerged from the study. Among them were that cheese was shown by a great margin to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life, and drinking alcohol daily — especially red wine — was associated with improvements in cognitive function.

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“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down,” Willette said in a statement. “While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

It’s important to note that these products should be consumed in moderation and balanced with a nutritious diet. Excess drinking can be taxing on the liver while too much dairy can cause side effects.