Author Identifier

Lauren Blekkenhorst

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition




Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute / School of Medical and Health Sciences




National Health and Medical Research Council

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : 1172987


de Crom, T. O., Blekkenhorst, L., Vernooij, M. W., Ikram, M. K., Voortman, T., & Ikram, M. A. (2023). Dietary nitrate intake in relation to the risk of dementia and imaging markers of vascular brain health: a population-based study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 118(2), 352-359.



Nitric oxide is a free radical that can be produced from dietary nitrate and positively affects cardiovascular health. With cardiovascular health playing an important role in the etiology of dementia, we hypothesized a link between dietary nitrate intake and the risk of dementia.


This study aimed to find the association of total, vegetable, and nonvegetable dietary nitrate intake with the risk of dementia and imaging markers of vascular brain health, such as total brain volume, global cerebral perfusion, white matter hyperintensity volume, microbleeds, and lacunar infarcts.


Between 1990 and 2009, dietary intake was assessed using food-frequency questionnaires in 9543 dementia-free participants (mean age, 64 y; 58% female) from the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study. Participants were followed up for incidence dementia until January 2020. We used Cox models to determine the association between dietary nitrate intake and incident dementia. Using linear mixed models and logistic regression models, we assessed the association of dietary nitrate intake with changes in imaging markers across 3 consecutive examination rounds (mean interval between images 4.6 y).


Participants median dietary nitrate consumption was 85 mg/d (interquartile range, 55 mg/d), derived on average for 81% from vegetable sources. During a mean follow-up of 14.5 y, 1472 participants developed dementia. A higher intake of total and vegetable dietary nitrate was associated with a lower risk of dementia per 50-mg/d increase [hazard ratio (HR): 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.87, 0.98; and HR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.86, 0.97, respectively] but not with changes in neuroimaging markers. No association between nonvegetable dietary nitrate intake and the risk of dementia (HR: 1.15; 95% CI: 0.64, 2.07) or changes in neuroimaging markers were observed.


A higher dietary nitrate intake from vegetable sources was associated with a lower risk of dementia. We found no evidence that this association was driven by vascular brain health.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.