New Study Shows Mediterranean Diet Preserves Cognitive Function
Worried about losing your mental sharpness as you age? Try changing your diet. According to a new study published in the journal of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers found the closer you follow a Mediterranean diet, the lower your risk of cognitive impairment and the higher you perform on cognitive function tests.
The US study which was conducted by the National Institutes of Health, analyzed data taken from nearly 9,000 men and women who participated in two major eye disease studies, AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) and AREDS2 (Age Related Eye Disease Study 2). Based on food frequency questionnaires, the researchers evaluated participants’ adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which included nine components – the consumption of whole fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and olive oil, as well as a reduction in the consumption of red meat and alcohol. They then compared this data to results from standardized cognitive function tests that the AREDS and AREDS2 participants took over a period of 10 years.
Results showed that participants who maintained the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest cognitive impairment and the most protection for the brain. Fish intake in particular, was associated with higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline in general. Although differences between groups were relatively small, on a population level the difference can be significant. In this study, closely following the Mediterranean diet was defined as eating fish twice a week and regularly consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and olive oil, as well as reducing consumption of red meat and alcohol.
Pasta is an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet and a healthy component of any diet. Plus, pasta acts as the perfect base for many of the key ingredients needed to maintain a Mediterranean Diet lifestyle, such as veggies and seafood. For a great pasta seafood dish full of leafy greens, check out this rigatoni with tomatoes and salmon recipe from Pasta Fits. Other Mediterranean Diet recipe ideas can be found here.