A healthy diet may help your mind stay sharp as you age.

Researchers followed nearly 50,000 women from 1984 to 2014. Cognitive decline was measured by asking participants if they had difficulty remembering recent events, following spoken instructions, remembering things from one second to the next, finding their way around familiar streets, and more.

People who reported eating patterns with a high DASH-diet score had about a 25 percent lower risk of “moderate”—and a 40 percent lower risk of “severe”—cognitive decline than those with a low DASH score.

A DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) score gives points for fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grains, and subtracts points for sugary drinks, red and processed meat, and sodium.

What to do

Trials are under way to test whether a healthy diet can slow memory loss. (This kind of study can’t determine that.) Until then, eat a DASH diet to keep a lid on your blood pressure.