Mediterranean diet could fight memory loss

Following a Mediterranean diet could help protect against memory loss, according to research which had its findings published in the journal Neurology.
The study followed 28,000 people in 40 countries, over an average time period of five years. Each participant was aged 55 years or older, and had a history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or peripheral artery disease.
At the beginning of the study, participants had their memory and thinking skills tested, and then again after two and five years. They also gave information on the diets they followed. The results indicated that those who followed a healthier diet were 24 per cent less likely to suffer from a decline in their cognitive ability.
The tests allowed for a maximum score of 30 points. The participants’ skills were classed as having declined if they dropped at least three points when they took the tests again.
The study followed each participant until: they suffered a stroke or heart attack, they were hospitalised for heart failure, or death from cardiovascular disease. Otherwise, they were followed to the end of the study period.
A Mediterranean diet involves a high consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish. Red wine is also consumed moderately, whilst the consumption of processed food and sugar is restricted. It has already been highlighted as a healthy diet which reduces the risk of conditions such as heart disease and dementia.
“This large study adds to evidence of a link between a healthy diet and better brain health. While it’s always hard to separate cause and effect in these kinds of studies the findings suggest a healthy diet could be one way to protect against memory and thinking decline as we age,” said Dr Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK.
However, he also highlighted the need for further research, saying: “The study focused on people at risk of cardiovascular disease and it would be important for the findings to be replicated across the general healthy population.”

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