Supplementing the Mediterranean diet with dairy foods improved mood and processing speed in Australian adults aged 45 years or older who were also at risk for CVD and dementia, according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience.
“Results from our study are in agreement with previous research on both the Mediterranean diet and the impact of dairy food consumption on heart health,” Karen Murphy, PhD, APD, practicing dietician and senior lecturer at the University of South Australia, told Healio Family Medicine. “We also know that dairy foods may also improve blood pressure, reduce obesity and improve heart health so combining both a Mediterranean diet with additional dairy foods might produce an even greater effect on improving cardiovascular health.” To test both the cardiometabolic and cognitive impacts of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with dairy foods, researchers conducted a 24-week, randomized, controlled, parallel cross-over design trial. Participants aged at least 45 years who had a systolic BP of 120 mm Hg or greater, along with at least two other risk factors for CVD, were allocated to either the MedDairy diet (n = 20; mean age, 60.8 years; average systolic BP, 130.2 mm Hg) or a low-fat control diet (n = 21; average systolic BP, 126.1 mm Hg).
The MedDairy intervention consisted of three to four daily servings of dairy food in addition to the traditional Mediterranean diet, while the low-fat intervention instructed that participants follow their usual diet but reduce total fat intake by replacing high-fat foods with breads, cereals, legumes, rice, vegetables, fruits, lean meats and low-fat dairy.
Dietary interventions were broken into 8-week segments, with an 8-week washout separating each.
To assess cognitive function across the domains of attention, processing speed, memory and planning at the start and end of each intervention, researchers administered a set of tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery.
In addition, mood states were assessed using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire, health-related quality of life was evaluated using the SF-36 Health Survey and dementia risk was assessed using the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) score and the Framingham vascular risk score (FRS).
Based on results from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Battery, researchers found that processing speed improved for participants in the MedDairy intervention (P = .04) and worsened for those in the low-fat intervention.
Furthermore, although no significant effects were observed for attention, memory and planning, or measures of dementia risk, the POMS questionnaire and SF-36 revealed improvements in total mood disturbance (P = .01), tension (P = .03), anger (P = .02) and confusion (P =.004) for participants who adhered to the MedDairy diet.
Supplementing the Mediterranean diet with dairy foods improved mood and processing speed in Australian adults aged 45 years or older who were also at risk for CVD and dementia.
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Health professionals and clinicians should consider the individual needs of specific patients when making dietary recommendations, according to Murphy, with older patients requiring more calcium. Even without the additional dairy foods, the Mediterranean diet is often a good option because it delivers calcium through both dairy and non-dairy sources to a level that meets the Australian estimated average requirement.
“We need to explore the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet in Western populations further over longer periods of time to ascertain long-term health benefits but also to incorporate ways to induce behavior change to ensure the pattern can be followed in the long-term,” Murphy added. Research also needs to focus on other chronic diseases as the Mediterranean diet has been reported to reduce risk of cancers, [non-alcoholic fatty liver disease], kidney disease, asthma, diabetes and improve gut health. In fact, some might consider it a potential ‘cure-all’ dietary pattern. The pattern is cost-effective but also environmentally sustainable, so further research should focus also on this area.” – by Melissa J. Webb
For more information:
Karen Murphy, PhD, APD, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.