A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and nuts has been found to potentially improve the memory and of older adults, a new clinical study suggests.
“This small study found that a Mediterranean diet, which is low in animal foods like meat and butter and high in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, when supplemented with olive oil or nuts, is associated with improved cognitive function,” said Samantha Heller, a nutritionist at New York University’s Centre for Musculoskeletal Care and Sports Performance.
Doctors led by Emilio Ros at the lipid clinic, endocrinology and nutrition service at Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, randomly assigned 447 older adults who were around 67 years old, typically overweight but not obese, and at risk of cardiovascular disease. Many had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
They were told to follow one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of nuts a day, or a low fat diet.
A total of 334 of the people initially involved completed the study and were given cognitive tests at the start and end of the trial, which lasted an average of four years.
The group following a low-fat diet were found to have had a significant decrease in memory and cognitive function.
Those supplementing a Mediterranean diet with nuts had a significant improvement in their memory, while the group that added extra virgin olive oil to their diet had significantly better cognitive function.
There were 37 cases of participants developing mild cognitive impairment during the study, but the researchers did not find that the different diets had had a significant impact on these diagnoses.
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