Eating fish, chicken, olive oil and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids while staying away from meats and dairy — the so-called Mediterranean diet — may help older adults keep their memory and thinking skills sharp, a large new U.S. study suggests. Greater adherence to Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of incident cognitive impairment in this large population. It may also be that the benefit of a Mediterranean diet differs in people with different diseases.
Using data from participants enrolled in a nationwide study on stroke, the researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham gleaned diet information from more than 17,000 white and black men and women whose average age was 64. The participants also took tests that measured their memory and thinking (cognitive) skills. During the four years of the study, 7 percent of the individuals developed problems with these skills, the researchers reported.
There was no evidence of racial or regional differences in response to the diet. However, the diet did not help diabetics ward off mental decline. Because there are no definitive treatments for dementia, anything people can do to possibly delay the onset of symptoms, such as modifying their diet, is very important, Tsivgoulis noted. The report was published in the April 30 issue of Neurology.
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