Eating a Mediterranean diet -- rich in produce, olive oil and fish -- improves brain functioning and lowers the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new review of the available research.
The review, published in the journal Epidemiology, includes 12 studies, nine of which showed an association between eating a Mediterranean diet and having lower Alzheimer's risk, improved cognitive functioning and lower rate of cognitive decline.
However, the researchers did not find definitive associations between eating a Mediterranean diet and having decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment (considered to be more severe cognitive decline than that which comes from aging, but not yet full-blown dementia).
"Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the aging brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyze all existing evidence," study researcher Iliana Lourida, of the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula, said in a statement.
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