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Finding confirms link between Mediterranean diet and lower dementia risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Mediterranean diet

In a first review of evidence, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School have confirmed eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with brain health. The findings showed lower rates of cognitive decline and dementia from adhering to the diet.

Several studies have found an association between lower risk of dementia from eating Mediterranean foods.

For their study, researchers analyzed 12 publications, 11 observational studies and one randomized control trial.

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Nine of the studies showed a Mediterranean diet was linked to lower chance of dementia, cognitive decline that can happen with aging and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Olive oil, vegetables, fruit and fish are mainstay foods that are part of the diet. Antioxidants that are found in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids in fish are consistently linked to lower risk of disease compared to a Western diet that is high in dairy and red meat products.

Researcher Iliana Lourida who led the study said in a press release: "Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence."

Lourida added that randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm a Mediterranean diet protects against dementia. The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, found inconsistent results that eating primarily Mediterranean foods can prevent vascular dementia and mild memory loss.