Background: Previous observational studies reported beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) on cognitive function, but results were inconsistent. This study assessed the effect on cognition of a nutritional intervention using MedDiets in comparison with a low-fat control diet.
Methods Researchers examined 522 participants at high vascular risk (age 74.6 ± 5.7 years at cognitive evaluation) enrolled in a multicenter, randomised, primary prevention trial, after a nutritional intervention comparing two Mediterranean diets (supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) or mixed nuts) versus a low-fat control diet. Global cognitive performance was examined by Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Clock Drawing Test after 6.5 years of nutritional intervention. Researchers who assessed the outcome were blinded to group assignment. Researchers used general linear models to control for potential confounding.
Results After adjustment for sex, age, education, Apolipoprotein E genotype, family history of cognitive impairment/dementia, smoking, physical activity, body mass index, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, alcohol and total energy intake, participants allocated to the MedDiet+EVOO showed higher mean MMSE and CDT scores with significant differences versus control These results did not differ after controlling for incident depression.
What You Need to Know An intervention with a Mediterranean diet enhanced with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts appears to improve brain function (cognition) compared with a low-fat diet. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.
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Reference: J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013;84(12):1318-1325.