The Mediterranean Diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. Consuming a plant-based Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil or mixed nuts can lead to improved cognitive function in older adults, revealed a new study.
Spanish researchers Emilio Ros and Ciber Fisiopatologia along with colleagues compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet. The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women, average age was nearly 67 years) who were at a high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.
The researchers measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and they constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition. After a median of four years of the intervention, follow-up tests were available on 334 study participants.
The researchers said, "The results suggested that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act 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 study appears online in JAMA Internal Medicine.