ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Following a Mediterranean diet has been linked to a slew of benefits, from slowing frailty in old age to preventing depression to lowering one’s risk of an early death. Now a recent study shows that the nutrition plan can also pack a powerful boost to brain function in our later years.
As time weighs on, brain functioning sedates, but researchers from the University of Michigan and University of California, San Francisco suggest that the Mediterranean diet can strengthen one’s memory and attention abilities.
The results also proved true for the MIND diet, a variation of the Mediterranean diet combined with the DASH diet. Both regimens do their best to regulate fried food, fast food, processed foods, red meat, whole-fat dairy foods, and sweets — ultimately, keeping them at bare minimum intake. The MIND diet places greater emphasis eating green vegetables and berries, while the Mediterranean diet encourages consumptions of potatoes, fish, while being more open to an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Both diets also limit alcohol consumption.
Researchers examined data from 5,907 older adults, who were the participants in the Health and Retirement study, a longitudinal project that focuses on health and aging. Participants completed questionnaires about their eating habits. Memory and attention skills were then measured in cognitive ability tests. Comparatively, those who followed the Mediterranean and MIND-style diets scored higher on the cognitive skills tests than those who had diets that were less healthy.
Older Mediterranean-style dieters also had a 35% lower chance of scoring poorly on the cognitive skills test. Followers of the MIND diet possessed similar results, researchers noted.
“This study shows that greater adherence to [the Mediterranean Diet] and MIND diet patterns are associated with better overall cognitive function in older adults and lower odds of cognitive impairment, which could have important public health implications for preservation of cognition during aging,” the authors conclude.
This study’s findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.