A Mediterranean diet is good for the mind according to boffins
A Mediterranean diet is good for the mind - and could even stave off dementia.
Over recent years many pieces of research have identified the health benefits of eating higher daily levels of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and fish and less meat and dairy products.
Until now there has been no systematic review of such research, where a number of studies regarding a Mediterranean diet and cognitive function are reviewed for consistencies, common trends and inconsistencies.
A team of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analysed 12 pieces of research - 11 observational studies and one randomised control trial.
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In nine out of the 12 studies, a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, results for mild cognitive impairment were inconsistent.
Research Iliana Lourida, who led the study, said: "Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia.
"While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence."
The review also highlighted inconsistencies in the literature and the need for further research, she said.
"In particular research is needed to clarify the association with mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia," she said.
"It is also important to note that while observational studies provide suggestive evidence we now need randomized controlled trials to confirm whether or not adherence to a Mediterranean diet protects against dementia."
The Exeter team was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC).
Its finding have been published in the medical journal Epidemiology.