SCOFFING cheese sandwiches could help lower your risk of dementia, a new study suggests.
Scientists found those who regularly ate the dairy product scored better on cognitive tests, suggesting they were less likely to develop the brain-robbing disease in later life.
Researchers monitored the health, physical activity and eating habits of 1,516 over-65s in Tokyo, Japan.
This included their diets, history of falls, chronic conditions, muscle mass, body fat, blood pressure, calf size, grip strength, walking speed, cholesterol and mental status.
About 80 per cent of participants consumed cheese – either daily (28 per cent), once every two days (24 per cent), or twice a week (30 per cent).
The processed kind was the most popular option, followed by white mould cheese (such as brie and camembert), fresh cheese (like feta, mascarpone and ricotta), and blue mould cheese (including Stilton and Gorgonzola).
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Volunteers then answered 30 questions which tested their cognitive function – known as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
This included memory, language, orientation, attention and visual-spatial skills.
A score of 23 or below was considered a marker for poor cognitive function.
The team found those who included cheese in their diets were less likely to score under this threshold.
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People who ate the British staple scored 28 on average, while those who didn't received 27 points.
Cheese-eaters also had slightly lower blood pressure and BMIs, a faster walking speed, and more variety in their diets generally.
They did, however, have higher cholesterol and blood sugar.
The non-cheese group had a slower usual walking speed, fewer teeth, smaller calves, and a higher prevalence of urinary incontinence and anemia.
The authors, who published their findings in the journal Nutrients, said: "Previous studies have shown that a dietary pattern characterised by a high intake of soybean products, vegetables, seaweed, milk, and dairy products, together with a low intake of grain products, is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia.
"Moreover, a high intake of milk and dairy products reduces the risk of developing dementia, especially Alzheimer’s dementia.
"[Our] results suggest that cheese intake is inversely associated with lower cognitive function even after adjusting for multiple confounding factors."
They concluded that cheese may hold brain-boosting properties, but further studies are needed to determine the role it plays, particularly in the development of dementia.
About 944,000 Brits are currently living with the condition.
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But experts predict this will exceed one million by 2030.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form, and is thought to be caused by build-ups of proteins in the brain, including tau and amyloid.
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