Eating a Mediterranean diet with an extra dose of olive oil and nuts may boost boomers’ cognitive function, according to a new study from the Mediterranean. JAMA Internal Medicine published the Spanish research, which was noted by Reuters.
Previous observational studies suggested the relationship between the Med diet and a lower risk of dementia and better cognitive function, but those studies had limitations, according to a JAMA release about the new research.
To explore further, Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, and Ciber Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, and coauthors compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet.
The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) at high cardiovascular risk, who were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.
The researchers assigned 155 subjects to eat a Mediterranean diet with and additional liter per week of extra virgin olive oil. They assigned another 147 to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almond. They assigned 145 subject to follow a low-fat control diet.
The scientists measured cognitive change over time for four years with a number of neuropsychological tests and they developed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal and global cognition.
For the low-fat eaters, all composites of cognitive function decreased significantly. Compared with the control group, the memory composite of the Med-plus-nuts dieters improved significantly while the frontal and global cognition composites improved for the Med-plus-olive-oil group.
"Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline,” wrote the authors. “The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted.”
Research supporting other benefits of going for olive oil instead of a low-fat diet continues to emerge. Last year, a study found that the Mediterranean diet may slow the progression of diabetes even more than a low-fat diet.