You have likely heard a million times that there are tremendous health benefits to be achieved by adopting a Mediterranean diet. In fact, a number of previous studies have shown those who follow the Mediterranean diet can:
- Feel more energized
- Have less heart disease
- Have a reduced risk of certain cancers
- Be happier
- Lose weight
- Live longer
But did you know that it can help your brain?
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine provides new evidence that a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes, along with limited consumption of meat and dairy can help fend off age-related cognitive decline.
The study’s results showed that, compared with a control group, memory function, and frontal and global cognition remained stronger in a group following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and olive oil.
The study participants were healthy but at higher risk of developing heart-related problems; some smoked or had hypertension, while others had a family history of heart issues. So the results of the study are especially encouraging since the people in the study were at higher risk of developing cognitive problems because of their heart-related risk factors.
“It’s never too late to change your dietary patterns to improve your health,” explains Dr. Emilio Ros, who led the study at the Hospital Clinic at the University of Barcelona in Spain.
Previous observational studies had suggested the antioxidants found in the diet’s staples — namely fruit, vegetables and olive oil — may help to delay neurodegeneration and the effects of aging on the brain.
A whole range of foods that can be found in the Mediterranean diet — from fruits and vegetables to fish and nuts — are rich in antioxidants. Some research points to specific compounds in olive oil as beneficial, too, because they may limit inflammation.
Incredibly, not only did the Mediterranean diet counteract cognitive decline, it also improved brain function! The study participants who followed a Mediterranean diet improved in their memory and cognitive skills as compared to their baseline measures.
None of these exciting findings come as any surprise to the Amen Clinics. We have long understood that a healthy diet is essential for a healthy brain.
“Without a healthy brain nothing in your life is as good as it can be—not your money, your relationships, your memory, your energy, your relationships, nothing.”
~Dr. Daniel Amen
Valls-Pedret, C, et al. Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May 11, [Epub ahead of print]
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