Med Diet with Olive Oil is Good for Your Brain

A new Australian study confirms that the Mediterranean Diet improves brain function, slows cognitive decline, and reduces the risk of Alzheimer's.

Sep. 6, 2016
By Isabel Putinja

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Several recent stud­ies have high­lighted the pos­i­tive effects of the Mediterranean diet on low­er­ing the risk of a num­ber of ill­nesses like car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, breast can­cer, and type 2 dia­betes, as well as con­tribut­ing to weight loss, and improv­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion.
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A recent study pub­lished in the open-access jour­nal, Frontiers in Nutrition, eval­u­ated 135 stud­ies pub­lished between 2000 and 2015 that exam­ined how the Mediterranean diet impacts cog­ni­tive func­tion.

The team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia selected 18 of these stud­ies accord­ing to strict inclu­sion cri­te­ria which were then sub­ject to a sys­tem­atic review.

The selected stud­ies included a num­ber of dif­fer­ent study designs, and exam­ined study par­tic­i­pants from the ages of 19 years to over 75 in coun­tries all over the world. Of the 18 research stud­ies, 13 con­cluded that fol­low­ing a Mediterranean diet was related to slower cog­ni­tive decline, a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, and improved brain func­tion.

The Mediterranean Diet refers to the tra­di­tional diet fol­lowed in many coun­tries of south­ern Europe, and is char­ac­ter­ized by a high con­sump­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles, and legumes, includ­ing olive oil as the main source of fat, and a low intake of dairy and ani­mal pro­tein.


In a press release, Roy Hardman, one of the study’s authors, explained why a higher adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet is related to a slow­ing of cog­ni­tive decline:

The MedDiet offers the oppor­tu­nity to change some of the mod­i­fi­able risk fac­tors. These include reduc­ing inflam­ma­tory responses, increas­ing micronu­tri­ents, improv­ing vit­a­min and min­eral imbal­ances, chang­ing lipid pro­files by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, main­tain­ing weight and poten­tially reduc­ing obe­sity, improv­ing polyphe­nols in the blood, improv­ing cel­lu­lar energy metab­o­lism and maybe chang­ing the gut micro-biota, although this has not been exam­ined to a larger extent yet.”

The Australian study con­cluded that fur­ther focused research is needed in view of the aging pop­u­la­tion, and that the Mediterranean diet is essen­tial to main­tain­ing qual­ity of life, and reduc­ing the social and eco­nomic bur­dens of demen­tia.

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