Large New Study Strengthens Evidence that Mediterranean Diet May Slow Cognitive Decline

A new study has strengthened existing evidence that the Mediterranean diet — heavy on vegetables, fish and olive oil — may be associated with slower rates of mental decline in the elderly.

The study, conducted by researchers at Rush Medical College in Chicago and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is significant because it was larger and more well validated than previous studies.

The research was based on a continuing study of 3,790 Chicago residents 65 and older that began in 1993. The subjects’ mental acuity was tested at three-year intervals, and their adherence to the Mediterranean diet was tracked on a 55-point scale.

The findings were pronounced. High scores for adherence to the Mediterranean Diet were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline. These findings held true, even after controlling for smoking, education, obesity, hypertension and other factors.

The Study’s lead author, Christine C. Tangney, an associate professor of nutrition at Rush Medical College in Chicago, was quoted as saying that those with scores in the top third of the participants for adherence to the diet, were cognitively the equivalent of two years younger than those in the bottom third.

While the researchers caution that they were not able to control for all possible variables, and therefore no definitive conclusions of cause and effect can be drawn, nevertheless the study significantly strengthens existing evidence that adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is associated with slower mental decline.

See the original study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

See also » Mediterranean Diet May Slow Cognitive Decline, Study Says – NYTimes.com.
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