Mediterranean diet linked to better memory

May 6, 2013 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Mediterranean diet linked to better memory

A University of Alabama at Birmingham study suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes consuming foods that contain fish, legumes, chicken and olive oil-based salad dressing, and limiting foods high in saturated fats, may be linked to preserving memory and thinking abilities.

However, the same association was not found in people with diabetes.

Data came from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. REGARDS enrolled 30,239 people aged 45 and older between January 2003 and October 2007, and it continues to follow them for health changes.

In this study, the largest yet done on the Mediterranean diet, dietary information from 17,478 African-Americans and Caucasians, average age of 64, was reviewed to see how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean diet. Study subjects also underwent tests that measured memory and thinking abilities over an average of four years. A total of 17 percent of the participants had diabetes.

The study found that in healthy people, those who more closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 19 percent less likely to develop problems with their thinking and memory skills. However, the Mediterranean diet was not associated with a lower risk of thinking and memory problems in people with diabetes.

Diet is one of a number of important modifiable activities that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life. Exercise, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important.

SOURCE: Neurology, April 30, 2013.

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