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Mediterranean diet, olive oil, and nuts improve brain health, memory, and thinking ability


Mediterranean diet

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(NaturalNews) The Mediterranean diet has long been researched and touted for its many benefits. High in nutrients and antioxidants, several studies have linked this type of diet to a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and dementia.

According to a new clinical study, a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts and olive oil could be the key to delaying cognitive decline and improving brain health, memory and thinking ability in older people. The study was published online in .

"Oxidative stress and vascular impairment are believed to partly mediate age-related cognitive decline, a strong risk factor for development of dementia," the authors wrote. "Epidemiologic studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet, an antioxidant-rich cardioprotective dietary pattern, delays cognitive decline."

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, legumes and fish, and it is very limited in meat and full-fat dairy products. Previous studies already associated a Mediterranean diet with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia, but these were mostly observational studies, which are less conclusive.

"This was the first clinical, randomized study using a dietary pattern for good health," said Emilio Ros, who led the study at Hospital Clinic's endocrinology department at the University of Barcelona in Spain. "This clinical trial removes the bias and provides first-level evidence," he added.

The study followed 447 cognitive healthy volunteers between 55 and 80 years of age for a median of just over four years. They were divided into three groups: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with one liter of extra virgin olive oil a week, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts a day (including walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds), or a low-fat diet, which was used as the control group. After four years, 334 participants took part in follow-up tests.

Brain function tests performed before, during and after the study concluded that the control group, who ate a low-fat diet, had a significant decrease in brain health, memory and thinking ability. The group that ate a Mediterranean diet with supplemental nuts scored best in memory tests, while the olive oil group showed better overall cognitive function (working memory, reasoning, and attention).

"Our results suggest 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 concludes.

Although these results seem very promising, more research is needed to confirm them. Nevertheless, this is not the first time that the Mediterranean diet has been associated with improvements in health and longevity, so you can't go wrong with opting for this kind of lifestyle.

"It's never too late to change your dietary patterns to improve your health," lead author Dr. Emilio Ros was quoted as saying in Time. "This surprised even myself."

Sources:

http://www.wsj.com

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com

http://media.jamanetwork.com

http://time.com

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