Mediterranean Diet and Better Cognitive Function

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a number of health benefits.  A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that this diet may result in better cognitive function.

A summary of this study from NBC News: Diet That Helps You Live Longer May Keep Your Mind Sound

Here’s an excerpt:

They singled out 447 volunteers considered at high risk of heart disease. Heart disease and dementia are already linked — people with a higher risk of one usually have a higher risk of the other, also.

Two groups were assigned to follow the Mediterranean diet and told to add either five 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day or a handful of mixed nuts. The third group got the low-fat advice….

The volunteers, who had an average age of 67, were tested from time to time on memory skills. The group who ate the extra nuts did better in terms of memory and the group given extra virgin olive oil performed better on tests that required quick thinking…

Just over 13 percent of those who got extra olive oil were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which may or may not lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Just 7 percent of those who got nuts were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, while around 13 percent of those who got neither developed memory loss.

But many of the patients actually saw their memories get better over the four years. On average, those in the low-fat-only group lost some memory and thinking skills, but those who got extra nuts had their memory skills improve on average, while those who got olive oil had improvements in problem-solving and planning skills…

The findings fit in with research that has shown a Mediterranean-style diet can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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