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Mediterranean Diet Linked To Lower Risk Of Dementia Among Older Adults: Study

by John Raphael / Jul 24, 2017 02:00 PM EDT
A shopper reaches for a yellow pepper in the local produce market Feb. 22, 2006 in Netanya in central Israel.

A new study revealed that older adults who prefer the healthful Mediterranean-style diet were less likely to develop dementia as compared to those who stick to a more Western-style diet. Presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London, the study showed that Mediterranean diet and other similar diets that promote heart health could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Associated with better cognitive function, eating a healthy plant-based diet may reduce risk of cognitive impairment during aging, CNN quoted Claire McEvoy, the lead author of the study, as saying. McEvoy is a post-doctoral scholar at University of California, San Francisco. 

For the study, the researchers followed the eating habits of nearly 6,000 older Americans participating in U.S. National Institute of Aging's Health and Retirement study. The researchers adjusted the age, gender, race, educational attainment, and lifestyle and health issues of the participants whose average age of the participants was 68.

The combination of Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is called the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, according to CBS NewsThe researchers observed the participants who regularly followed the MIND diet, which combines the best brain food in Mediterranean diet and salt-reducing foods of DASH diet.

Both Mediterranean diet and DASH diet promote the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whle grains, fish, poultry, nuts and low-fat dairy. People adhering to these diets limit their intake of red meats, sugar and salt.

In the study, those who regularly followed the MIND diet were 30 to 35 percent less likely to develop dementia as compared to those who stuck with other diets. On the other hand, the participants who moderately adhered to either the MIND diet or only the Mediterranean diet had 18 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment.

However, the researchers noted that the study only showed a link between the MIND diet and lower risk of dementia. It neither proves nor confirms a cause-effect relationship between the two, they said. 

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