DOI: 10.1002/alz.072488 ISSN: 1552-5260

Brain Healthy Soul Food Diet Intervention Among Older African Americans

Ashley R. Shaw
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Alzheimer’s disease (AD) poses a major public health crisis, especially among African Americans who are disproportionally burdened by AD. Emerging evidence suggests that up to half of AD cases are a result of modifiable cardiovascular (CV) or metabolic risk factors related to poor diet such as elevated blood pressure, arterial stiffness, obesity, and diabetes, all of which disproportionately affect African Americans. Given the high prevalence of CV related risk factors in the African American community, prevention strategies are critical for reducing the disproportionate impact of AD among African Americans.


We conducted a single arm 12‐week pilot in 2 waves (n = 20 African Americans) to assess feasibility and acceptability of an adapted brain‐healthy soul food diet intervention (MIND+SOUL) as measured by recruitment rates, retention rates, adherence, and satisfaction. The intervention encompassed skill building cooking classes, health coaching, and weekly groceries. We also evaluated preliminary efficacy of the MIND+SOUL diet intervention on CV risk and nutritional health status as measured by body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol, NHANES diet screening questionnaire, and beta carotene spectrophotometer. Lastly, we assessed change in cognition as assessed by the NIH Toolbox (NIH‐TB domains: memory, language, reading, vocabulary, processing speed, and executive function).


A total of 20 African Americans participated in the study with a retention rate of 90%. Most participants perceived the MIND+SOUL diet as feasible to follow (88.9%) and perceived the MIND+SOUL diet as effective in improving their overall health (77.8%). The median acceptability score was 67 out of 100 in which participants suggested modifications to the health coaching design and dissemination. Additionally, participated completed baseline and 12‐week CV, nutritional health status, and cognitive assessments.


Findings from this study indicate that older African Americans have a high interest in culturally tailored diets. Additionally, findings from this study will inform the development of a full‐scale randomized control trial that will test the efficacy of the MIND+SOUL intervention among older African Americans across a larger geographical area.

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