Study Links Mediterranean Diet to Preserving Memory

First Posted: May 02, 2013 07:33 AM EDT

A recent study published in the journal Neurology shows a strong correlation between the Mediterranean diet and memory skills.

According to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Mediterranean diet supports consuming food that has omega 3 fatty acids present in fish, salad dressing and chicken, thereby avoiding saturated fats, dairy food and meat. It is linked with the preservation of memory and thinking abilities. However, the link was absent in people with type II diabetes.

"Since there are no definitive treatments for most dementing illnesses, modifiable activities, such as diet, that may delay the onset of symptoms of dementia, are very important," Georgios Tsivgoulis, M.D., a neurologist with UAB and the University of Athens, Greece, said in a news release.

For the current study, researchers reviewed the dietary information of 17,478 African-Americans and Caucasians who belonged to the age group of 64 in order to check how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet. Nearly 17 percent of the participants suffered from diabetes. Apart from this, they underwent tests that measured their memory and thinking abilities over a period of four years.

The researchers noticed that those who closely maintained a Mediterranean diet were 19 percent less likely to develop problems with their thinking and memory skills.

However, not much difference was noticed in those who suffered from diabetes.

"Diet is an important modifiable activity that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life," said Tsivgoulis. "However, it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning. Exercise, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important."

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