Mediterranean Diet Explained
The Mediterranean diet is a diet typified by the Italians, Greeks, and other Mediterranean cultures that emphasizes vegetables, fish, legumes, non-refined cereals, olive oil, fruits and moderate wine consumption, usually at meals.
Mediterranean Diet More than Heart Friendly
The Mediterranean diet has already been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. But this and other studies are now suggesting that a Mediterranean diet may also have healthy benefits for the mind.
In this new study, researchers found older adults who followed a Mediterranean diet more closely had slower rates of age-related cognitive decline than those who didn't follow Mediterranean style diet, even after adjusting for other factors such as educational level.
In the study, researchers analyzed information gathered by the ongoing Chicago Health and Aging Project, which follows 3,759 adults over the age of 65 living on the South Side of Chicago.
Every three years, the participants took tests of memory and basic math skills and filled out a questionnaire on how often they eat 139 different foods. The study follow-up time was 7.6 years on average.
Researchers looked at how closely the participants followed a Mediterranean diet and then compared it to their scores on age-related cognitive decline.
Out of a maximum score of 55 for total adherence to a Mediterranean diet, the average score was 28. The results showed those with higher than average scores had a slower rate of age-related mental decline than those with lower scores.
"The more we can incorporate vegetables, olive oil, and fish into our diets and moderate wine consumption, the better for our aging brains and bodies," says Christy Tangney, PhD, associate professor of clinical nutrition at Rush University, in a news release.
Tangney, C. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2011; vol 93: pp 1-7.
News release, Rush University Medical Center.