Mediterranean diet helps preserve memory
Following the Mediterranean diet – one rich with omega-3 fatty acids – may go a long way in helping people avoid memory problems and maintain thinking skills, according to a study at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The diet is built around eating plenty of fish, chicken and salad dressing, and has been linked to improved overall health, in addition to its mental health benefits. However, the study did discover that no such cognitive benefits were found among people with diabetes.
The researchers used data from the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study, which included 30,239 participants over the age of 45. Of this population, 14,478 were asked how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet. The average age was 64 and 17 percent had diabetes. In addition to the dietary survey, participants underwent tests for memory and cognition, with follow-ups over a four year period.
Ultimately, the researchers found that patients without diabetes had a 19 percent lower risk of developing problems with memory and thinking skills if they closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet. No benefit was gained among those with diabetes.
Though the Mediterranean diet may be an effective step towards retaining cognitive abilities, it is only one part of overall health, the researchers warned. People still need to keep healthy lifestyle, including getting regular exercise, not smoking and avoiding obesity.