A Mediterranean diet enriched by a handful of nuts or few tablespoons of olive oil daily may counteract the effects of aging on the brain .
The study, published online Monday, is unique in that it is not an observational study, but a clinical study. Most of the evidence showing the benefits of the Mediterranean diet actually come from observational studies.
The study was led by Emilio Ros and his team from the University of Barcelona. The data collected from previous observational studies show that adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia, but epidemiological studies have limitations that seem lifted by this test clinical.
The Mediterranean diet is best known for its benefits on cardiovascular health. It uses vegetables, fruits, spices, whole grains, legumes. It also includes fish and wine, some meat and dairy products .
The study followed 447 participants aged 55-80 years and enjoying all their intellectual faculties, which were divided into three groups. Both groups followed the Mediterranean diet plus 30 grams of nutsper day or five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily. The third group, serving as the control group were instructed to follow a diet low in fat. Participants were followed for a median of just over four years.
The results show that, compared to the control group, the storage functions remained strong in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, while attention and executive functions and cognitive faculties have rather enjoyed the most oil to Mediterranean diet ‘olive.
Cognitive functions have dropped less in the groups who followed the Mediterranean diets enriched probably because they provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, according to the authors of the study. Olive oil and nuts are rich in phenolic compounds that could thwart oxidative processes in the brain, leading to neurodegeneration.
The study is part of a broader investigation, which has already shown that the Mediterranean diet, enriched with olive oil or nuts, reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events in people at high cardiovascular risk. The study, which involved nearly 7500 participants .
Dr Rose indicates that participants in the intervention study received one liter of olive oil per week for the entire home. It recommends, in preventing cognitive decline associated with age, add 5 tablespoons of olive oil and a handful of nuts a day to their diet. He recommends to prepare the “sofrito”, simmered sauce made from tomatoes, onions and garlic in olive oil, to accompany rice and pasta dishes in the weekly menus. “We believe this is an antioxidant cocktail,” he said.
The opinion of healthmagazine.com : In this study, changes in cognitive functions are relatively low and the experimental diet did not improve brain function, simply reduces the extent of its decline. Still, it is proof that simple dietary changes have an impact not only on the heart but on overall health.