Nuts, Virgin Olive Oil Slow Mental Decline
The benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet have been recognized for years. People who eat this type of diet have lower rates of heart disease, reduced cancer risk and are less likely to become obese. And now there’s another reason to enjoy this tasty way of eating.
Research from Spain now reveals this type of diet may help better your odds of beating mental decline.
For the purposes of the study, participants were divided into three groups:
- 155 people supplemented a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week.
- Another 147 supplemented a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
- A final 145 individuals followed a low-fat control diet.
The participants underwent a battery of psychological testing. This allowed the study authors to measure cognitive change over time. These included changes in memory, attention, executive function and global cognition. After a median of four years, follow-up tests were available on 334 participants.
The results of the study showed people on the low-fat diet had a significant decrease in all areas of cognitive function. The group assigned nuts with their Mediterranean diet had significant improvement in all areas of cognitive function. Meanwhile, those on the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil had improvements in attention, executive function and global cognition.
“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline. The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted,” the study concludes.
SOURCE: Mediterranean diet plus olive oil or nuts associated with improved cognitive function. Press Release. The JAMA Network Journals via EurekAlert. May 2015.