Try the Med diet for a sharper brain
London - The Mediterranean diet not only helps you live longer but it can keep the brain sharp too, research has found.
Scientists found that those who consumed plenty of vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and fish had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment in their latter years.
Cognitive impairment covers when a person has trouble remembering, learning things, concentrating or making decisions that impact on their everyday life.
The study, published in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal, found that those with a diet high in fish had a slower rate of decline.
Crucially, the researchers found that the Mediterranean diet even appeared to benefit participants with a higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s – those carrying the APOE gene which greatly increases chances of developing the disease.
High fish and vegetable consumption were linked to the most protective effect. Lead author Dr Emily Chew, from the National Eye Institute, in Maryland, US, said: "Closer adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment but not slower decline in cognitive function. However, higher fish consumption was significantly associated with slower cognitive decline."
Scientists aimed to understand whether sticking closely to a Mediterranean diet would impact cognition, after a series of previous studies proved inconsistent.
Mediterranean foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil were analysed, as well as reduced consumption of red meat and alcohol.
The researchers studied two trials of nearly 8 000 elderly people with varying severity of AMD – an age-related eye condition.
Both groups were assessed for their diet, with the first set’s cognitive function tested at five years, while the second were tested at two, four and ten years.
Participants who stuck most closely to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment and had a higher performance on cognitive tests.
The evidence was strongest for those who maintained but did not substantially alter their diet and those with the highest fish consumption had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.
Dr Chew added: "These findings may help inform evidence-based dietary recommendations, adding strength to evidence that Mediterranean-type diet patterns may maximise cognitive reserve against impairment and dementia."Daily Mail