Less Meat in Middle Age, Better Memory When You're Older? As if you needed yet another reason to fear high cholesterol and high blood pressure: a new study has shown that people with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure in middle age exhibit more problems with their memories as they age, as compared to people with good cardiovascular health. The study was conducted in nearly 5,000 people. The researchers looked at several factors to determine cardiovascular risk and found that people with just a 10% higher risk were prone to a quicker rate of cognitive decline. The only areas of cognition that seemed unaffected by cardiovascular risk were reasoning in men, and fluency (usually assessed by a word-finding or word-generating task) in women.

So how can you improve cardiovascular health and lower your risk for heart disease and increased cognitive decline? According to Mayo Clinic, you should try the following:

  • Choose lower fat protein sources like skim milk, fish, beans, and skinless chicken in place of marbled beef cuts, bacon, hot dogs, and organ meats
  • Try olive oil instead of butter
  • Steer clear of things high in trans fats and hydrogenated fats–like non-dairy creamer, shortening, bacon grease, lard, and certain snack foods
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to whole grains for flour, bread, pasta, and rice, and cut the sugar to a minimum
  • Cut down on salt and salty condiments like soy sauce
  • Whatever you eat, be sure to control portion size so you don’t eat too much
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get some exercise regularly–even if it’s just a walk
  • Reduce stress in your life