Mediterranean diet keeps your mind sharp – new research

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We are constantly hearing about why we should be following a Mediterranean diet to help prevent heart disease and keep us in good physical shape; it seems hardly a day goes by without seeing some report in the national press and other media.

Now though, there’s new research out that shows how a Mediterranean diet which consists mainly of fish, vegetables, olive oil, and even moderate consumption of wine, may help slow down age related cognitive decline and keep our minds sharper for longer. So what’s that about?

The research involved analysing the diets and assessing the cognitive health of 3,759 older residents living in the South side of Chicago who were all part of the Chicago Healthy Aging Project, a project which continually evaluates the cognitive health in adults over 65 years of age.

On a three yearly basis, the participants filled in a questionnaire designed to find out how much they consumed 139 different foods which included fish, fruits, vegetables, non-refined cereals, potatoes, and also wine. The residents also had their cognitive health assessed and were given memory and basic maths tests.

The researchers gave a maximum score of 55 to those who adhered strictly to the typical Mediterranean diet. The average score for the participants in the study was 28.

However, those who had higher scores were found to have a slower rate of age related mental decline than those who had lower scores. It’s important to note that this was after other contributing factors were taken into account such as education level etc.

Christy Tangney, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University, who was the lead author of the study said in a press statement that 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”.

Interestingly, the researchers also looked at how closely the participants followed the Healthy Eating Index 2005 which is based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating for Americans and found there was no relationship between closely following that diet and the rate of cognitive decline.

The results of the study have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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