Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Cognitive Decline

We often hear that the Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat—when done right, it can be packed with good fats, fiber, fruits, veggies and antioxidants, all of which can help boost heart health, reduce inflammation and help stave off chronic diseases

According to a study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Mediterranean diet can also help reduce cognitive decline in the elderly. The study followed nearly 4,000 Chicago residents over the age of 65, tracking their adherence to the diet, as well their mental acuity at three-year intervals. The results showed that participants who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet saw the slowest rates of cognitive decline (even after controlling for smoking, education, obesity and other factors).

In a similar study published this February in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers focused on the connection between the antioxidants that are abundant in the Mediterranean diet with cognitive performance among older adults at high cardiovascular risk. The Spanish study followed 447 people, between 55-80 years old, to assess the effects of food intake on brain function. The team discovered that some foods were specifically linked to certain areas of cognitive function: olive oil may improve verbal memory; walnuts may improve working memory; and wine may improve scores on a test used to assess mental health and clarity.

Want to get more of the Mediterranean in your diet? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says:

“The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. It replaces butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, and uses herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods. Red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, while fish should be on the menu twice a week.” (Click here for some great recipe suggestions from the Mayo Clinic.)

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