Cognitive decline found to improve with supplemented Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diets enhanced with extra virgin olive oil or assorted nuts is linked to improved cognitive function in older adults, according to recently published data in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“The beneficial effect of Mediterranean diets on cognition probably stems from the abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents they provide. The supplemental foods, extra virgin olive oil and nuts, are particularly rich in phenolic compounds that might counteract oxidative processes in the brain, leading to neurodegeneration,” the researchers wrote.
To evaluate the association of cognitive function and diet, researchers from Barcelona randomly assigned participants to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (1 L/week), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts (30 g/day) or a reduced fat control diet. Participants had a mean age of 66.9 years, were predominantly female and were at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
At follow-up, approximately 4.1 years after intervention, a significant cognitive decline was seen among the low-fat diet group.
Results from the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test and the Color Trail Test part 2 were higher among those assigned to Mediterranean diet plus olive oil compared with the low-fat diet group.
Significant improvement in memory composite was seen in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group compared with the low-fat diet group. Improvement in frontal and global cognition composites were seen in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group, compared with the low-fat diet group.
Overall, mild cognitive impairment was seen in 37 participants, 13.4% from the Mediterranean plus olive oil group, 7.1% from the Mediterranean plus nuts group and 12.6% from the low-fat diet group.
“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counteract age related cognitive decline. The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging, but further investigation is warranted,” the researchers wrote. – by Casey Hower
Disclosures: Valls-Perdet reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for a full list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.