Mediterranean diet study results also show it can lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and decrease the risk of depression and dementia
The Mediterranean diet has been proven to have quite a wide range of physical and mental benefits for those switch, and now Mediterranean diet study results are showing better memory and test scores in older adults on the diet.
Less red meat and more healthy fats
The structure of this diet, as the Mayo Clinic states, is eating food usually consumed by people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This means, for example, eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and herbs. It also means eating dairy, seafood, eggs, and poultry in moderation and eating red meat only occasionally. The most often-used fat in this diet tends to be olive oil, which is considered a “healthy fat.”
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, Mediterranean diet study results have shown that it can lower the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, and decrease the risk of both depression as well as dementia.
Mediterranean diet study results
A study titled “Dietary patterns, cognitive function, and structural neuroimaging measures of brain aging” published by researchers at the University of Edinburg in the December issue of Experimental Gerontology determined that adhering to the Mediterranean diet can also improve test scores and promote higher memory in older adults.
Here’s how it worked: More than 500 individuals of the mean age of 79 years, who did not have dementia, and who were in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (they all participated in the 1947 Scottish Mental Health survey) were asked questions about their diet in the previous year. The researchers then tested their thinking skills in areas such as memory, word knowledge, thinking speed, and problem solving. Afterwards, more than 350 participants had MRIs so that the researchers could look at their brain volumes and white matter microstructure.
In the Mediterranean diet study results, when researchers compared participants who ate the Mediterranean diet to those who didn’t (and who tended to eat more processed foods), they discovered that the Mediterranean diet consumers had better verbal ability as well as higher cognitive function. Their brain structural integrity, however, showed no differences, so the diets of their participants seemed to not matter.
Cognitive as well as neuroimaging outcomes together
One of the highlights of this particular set of Mediterranean diet study results is that it investigated dietary patterns with participants’ cognitive as well as neuroimaging outcomes. By and large, research studies don’t tend to study these together.
Of course, the most important conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet was seen to improve overall cognitive function.
International Mediterranean Diet Month
May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, celebrating the mostly plant-based diet.
In addition to the diet outlines, patients are encouraged to exercise at least 2-1/2 hours per week.
Patients should also make sure they’re getting enough protein.
“If you’re shifting over to a more plant-based diet, like I did when I started the diet, you need to be careful about getting enough nutrients, especially protein,” advised Jennifer Barton, writing for Insider.com. “I didn’t think about that enough in those early months and spent the first few weeks feeling really light-headed. But once I started consciously adding beans, lentils, eggs, and fish to my meals, I stopped feeling so hungry and dizzy all the time.”
Jennifer Fleming, assistant teaching professor of nutrition at Penn State, said healthy diets can include a wide variety of foods, such as red meat, and still be heart friendly.
“When you create a healthy diet built on fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, it leaves room for moderate amounts of other foods like lean beef,” Fleming said. “There are still important nutrients in beef that you can benefit from by eating lean cuts like the loin or round, or 93% lean ground beef.”
Red meat has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in many studies and should be limited. In a meta-analysis study of 17 prospective cohorts reported by BMJ.com, “One serving per day of red meat was associated with a 19% higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, and this risk was mostly associated with processed red meat.”