Mediterranean Diet vs. Cognitive Decline

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Older people who consume a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce their risk of cognitive decline, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers analyzed the diets of 5,900 older people who underwent cognitive testing involving mostly memory and attention skills. Those whose eating habits came closest to the Mediterranean diet or related MIND diet did best on the cognitive tests. The key elements of Mediterranean diet are a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes; moderate intake offish,nuts,whole grains, and wine; and low intake of red or processed meats. The MIND diet melds the Mediterranean diet and the antihypertension DASH diet, both of which have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease.

More evidence that aMediterranean-style diet may help reduce age-related cognitive decline comes from a 2017studyin the journalNeurology. Researchers correlated the dietary habits of 967 Scottish people in their early seventies with changes seen on MRI brain scans over a three-year period. Those who most closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet had much less age-related brain shrinkage (atrophy) than those who adhered least to the diet. The results were the same even after researchers adjusted the data for other factors that could affect brain volume, such as age or having high blood pressure.