Mediterranean Diet Linked To Heightened Cognitive Function

Mediterranean Diet Linked To Heightened Cognitive Function

The Mediterranean diet recently scored some scientific points in an analysis conducted by National Institutes of Health researchers.
 
Researchers at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, correlates with higher cognitive function, and that dietary factors seem to play a role in slowing cognitive decline when coupled with reduced consumption of red meat and alcohol.  
 
The findings came from recent analysis of data from two major eye disease studies, AREDS and AREDS 2, and were published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: the Jounral of the Alzheimer’s Association.
 
Over several years, AREDS and AREDS 2 assessed the effect of vitamins on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which damages the light-sensitive retina. AREDS included about 4,000 participants with and without AMD, and AREDS 2 included 4,000 participants, all of whom had AMD.
 
The researchers assessed AREDS and AREDS 2 participants for diet at the start of the studies. AREDS tested participants’ cognitive function at five years, while AREDS 2 tested cognitive function at baseline, and then again at two, four, and ten years later. All tests were standardized based on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination to evaluate cognitive function as well as other tests. The diet questionnaire asked participants their average consumption of each Mediterranean diet component over the previous year.
 
Patients with the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment. The greatest protective effects were seen in high fish and vegetable consumption. At 10 years, patients with the highest fish consumption had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.
 
While the numerical differences in cognitive function scores between participants with the highest versus lowest adherence to a Mediterranean diet were relatively small, the effects nonetheless show clear signs that cognition and neural health depend on diet.
 
Researchers found that the benefits of a close adherence to a Mediterranean diet were similar for people with and without the ApoE gene, which puts indivdiuals at a greater genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease and greater cognitive decline.
 
 

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