A great article in the NY Times recently pointed out that a Mediterranean diet may help prevent mental decline.
They quoted a study published in The Archives of Neurology which tracked the eating habits of 1,393 people with no cognitive problems and 482 patients with mild cognitive impairment, a preliminary state of mental decline that can sometimes signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
The individuals were divided into two groups:
- Those who ate a diet rich in Mediterranean foods (fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, while at the same time consuming moderate amounts of alcohol and only small quantities of meat and dairy products).
- Those who did not follow a Mediterranean type of diet.
After nearly five years of follow up, about 275 people in the healthy group developed mild cognitive impairment. People who closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a 28 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, compared to those whose eating habits were the least like a Mediterranean diet. Moderate followers of a Mediterranean diet showed a trend toward a 17 percent lower risk than the lowest-scoring group, although that finding wasn’t statistically significant.
A Mediterranean diet also appeared to slow decline in those already diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Among the 482 men and women with mild cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study, 106 developed Alzheimer’s disease about four years later. But among those who strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet, risk of Alzheimer’s was 48 percent lower, while risk was 45 percent lower among those who ate a moderate version of the diet.
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Make each bite count!