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Study: To improve memory and thinking skills, try the Mediterranean diet with added olive oil and nuts

Mediterranean-Diet

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Mediter­ranean diet may help coun­ter­act age-relat­ed declines in mem­o­ry and think­ing skills (Har­vard Health Blog):

A new study in this week’s JAMA Inter­nal Med­i­cine sug­gests that eat­ing a Mediter­ranean-style diet enhanced with extra-vir­gin olive oil or nuts is good for your mind as well as your heart.

The par­tic­i­pants were most­ly in their 60s and 70s and were at risk for devel­op­ing heart disease…They were divid­ed into three groups: one fol­lowed a Mediter­ranean-type diet and also ate an extra ounce of mixed nuts (wal­nuts, hazel­nuts, and almonds) a day; anoth­er fol­lowed a Mediter­ranean-type diet and also ate an extra five table­spoons of extra-vir­gin olive oil a day; the third group, which served as the con­trol, fol­lowed a low-fat diet.

In the con­trol group, aver­age scores on both types of tests — mem­o­ry and think­ing skills — fell dur­ing those four years. By com­par­i­son, aver­age scores on the mem­o­ry tests improved among those fol­low­ing the Mediter­ranean-type diet with extra serv­ings of nuts, while scores on the tests of think­ing skills improved among those fol­low­ing the Mediter­ranean diet with extra serv­ings of olive oil.”

Study: Mediter­ranean Diet and Age-Relat­ed Cog­ni­tive Decline: A Ran­dom­ized Clin­i­cal Tri­al (JAMA Inter­nal Med­i­cine)

  • IMPORTANCE: Oxida­tive stress and vas­cu­lar impair­ment are believed to part­ly medi­ate age-relat­ed cog­ni­tive decline, a strong risk fac­tor for devel­op­ment of demen­tia. Epi­demi­o­log­ic stud­ies sug­gest that a Mediter­ranean diet, an antiox­i­dant-rich car­dio­pro­tec­tive dietary pat­tern, delays cog­ni­tive decline, but clin­i­cal tri­al evi­dence is lack­ing.
  • OBJECTIVE: To inves­ti­gate whether a Mediter­ranean diet sup­ple­ment­ed with antiox­i­dant-rich foods influ­ences cog­ni­tive func­tion com­pared with a con­trol diet.
  • INTERVENTIONS: Par­tic­i­pants were ran­dom­ly assigned to a Mediter­ranean diet sup­ple­ment­ed with extravir­gin olive oil (1 L/wk), a Mediter­ranean diet sup­ple­ment­ed with mixed nuts (30 g/d), or a con­trol diet (advice to reduce dietary fat).
  • MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Rates of cog­ni­tive change over time based on a neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test bat­tery: Mini-Men­tal State Exam­i­na­tion, Rey Audi­to­ry Ver­bal Learn­ing Test (RAVLT), Ani­mals Seman­tic Flu­en­cy, Dig­it Span sub­test from the Wech­sler Adult Intel­li­gence Scale, Ver­bal Paired Asso­ciates from the Wech­sler Mem­o­ry Scale, and the Col­or Trail Test.
  • CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In an old­er pop­u­la­tion, a Mediter­ranean diet sup­ple­ment­ed with olive oil or nuts is asso­ci­at­ed with improved cog­ni­tive func­tion.

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