The Mediterranean diet and brain aging

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May 21, 2013

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A Mediterranean diet with added virgin olive oil or nuts seems to improve mental ability of older people better than a low-fat diet.

Researchers from the University of Navarra, base their conclusions on “analysis of 522 men and women aged between 55 and 80 without cardiovascular disease but with high vascular risk for other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, one profile of unfavorable blood fat, overweight, family history of early cardiovascular disease and being a smoker.”

They were randomized to a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil and nuts to a control group that received advice to follow a low fat diet, normally recommended to prevent heart attacks and strokes. They had regular checkups with their family doctor and quarterly audits on compliance of the prescribed diet.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by “the use of olive oil as the main cooking fat, high in fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes, moderate to high consumption of fish and seafood, low intake of red meat and dairy products and moderate red wine consumption.”

The study is a first long-term trial that examines the impact of the Mediterranean diet on brain power and adds to the growing body of evidence suggests that a high-quality dietary pattern seems to protect cognitive function in the aging brain.

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