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Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet shown to improve brain aging and help prevent vascular dementia

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 by: John Phillip
Tags: Mediterranean diet, cognitive decline, anti-aging foods

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(NaturalNews) A significant number of people believe that memory loss, inability to learn new concepts and the risk for vascular dementia (mini strokes leading to cognitive impairment) are a natural part of aging. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a society we are so conditioned to witness aging adults succumb to 'senior moments' where they appear to forget where they are or exhibit poor control over normal daily functions, including driving a motor vehicle.

For the better part of the last two decades, medical professionals have been advising people to follow a low-fat diet to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, yet death from heart attacks and vascular-related conditions has continued to explode during that period, making heart disease the leading killer of Americans. Researchers publishing in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry have found that eating a Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts seems to improve the brain power of older people better than advising them to follow a low-fat diet.

Study shows that olive oil and nuts added to a healthy Mediterranean diet lowers cognitive decline by nearly twenty percent

Scientists from the University of Navarra in Spain analyzed 522 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 with no history of cardiovascular disease, but considered at-risk based on metabolic profile or family history. Participants were randomly allocated to a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil or mixed nuts or a control group receiving advice to follow the low-fat diet typically recommended to prevent heart attack and stroke.

The study group underwent regular physical exams and quarterly reviews to determine compliance with dietary requirements. After a period of six-and-a-half years, the participants were tested for signs of cognitive decline using a Mini Mental State Exam to assess higher brain functions, including orientation, memory, language, and executive functions such as working memory, attention span, and abstract thinking. Sixty individuals developed mild cognitive impairment, including 18 on the olive oil supplemented Mediterranean diet; 19 on the diet with added mixed nuts; and 23 in the control group.

Additionally, 35 participants developed advanced dementia, broken down to include 23 on the added olive oil diet; six on the added nut diet; and 17 on the low fat diet. Researchers concluded that the average scores were significantly higher for those following the Mediterranean style diet including olive oil and nuts as compared to the control group. Though the sampling size in this study was small, it does demonstrate that simply including olive oil (extra virgin, cold-pressed) and nuts (raw, not roasted), while avoiding low-fat dietary strategies may result in a nearly 20 percent decline in the risk of developing mild to advanced cognitive impairment and dementia.

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About the author:
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.

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