` Refined Foods May Impede Benefits of Mediterranean Diet, Study Finds - Olive Oil Times

Refined Foods May Impede Benefits of Mediterranean Diet, Study Finds

Jan. 15, 2021
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Consuming refined foods asso­ci­ated with the Western diet may coun­ter­act the ben­e­fits of adher­ing to the Mediterranean diet, accord­ing to a new study from the Rush University Medical Center of Chicago.

An obser­va­tional study was car­ried out among 5,001 adults aged 65 and older, all of whom were already tak­ing part in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which is aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing dietary and other risk fac­tors of cog­ni­tive decline in urban pop­u­la­tions.

Individuals who had a high Mediterranean diet score com­pared to those who had the low­est score were equiv­a­lent to being 5.8 years younger in age cog­ni­tively.- Puja Agarwal, nutri­tional epi­demi­ol­o­gist, Rush University

During the study, the researchers mea­sured the par­tic­i­pants’ adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet regime by keep­ing a score based on the con­sump­tion of food, includ­ing fruits, veg­eta­bles, olive oil and legumes.

The score was adjusted to reflect the extent the par­tic­i­pants devi­ated from the MedDiet and opted for food typ­i­cal of a Western diet, such as refined grains and processed meat.

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Then the cal­cu­lated score was com­pared with the basic brain func­tions of the par­tic­i­pants, includ­ing their cog­ni­tive func­tion, episodic mem­ory and per­cep­tual speed, all of which were peri­od­i­cally recorded to exam­ine how these func­tions were affected by devi­a­tion from the MedDiet.

The study results, pub­lished in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, showed that the par­tic­i­pants adher­ing more closely to the Mediterranean diet exhib­ited slower cog­ni­tive decline com­pared to those con­sum­ing more foods of the Western diet, who had prac­ti­cally no gains in con­fronting dete­ri­o­ra­tion of cog­ni­tion.

Western diets may adversely affect cog­ni­tive health,” said Puja Agarwal, a nutri­tional epi­demi­ol­o­gist at Rush University and one of the researchers in the study.

Eating a diet that empha­sizes veg­eta­bles, fruit, fish and whole grains may pos­i­tively affect a person’s health,” she added. But when it is com­bined with fried food, sweets, refined grains, red meat and processed meat, we observed that the ben­e­fits of eat­ing the Mediterranean part of the diet seem to be dimin­ished.”

Individuals who had a high Mediterranean diet score com­pared to those who had the low­est score were equiv­a­lent to being 5.8 years younger in age cog­ni­tively,” Agarwal con­tin­ued.

The results from the study com­ple­ment pre­vi­ous find­ings, which showed that the MedDiet can act against dia­betes, cer­tain types of can­cer and decrease the risk of heart dis­ease, the researchers said.

They added that work in the field is far from over and fur­ther lon­gi­tu­di­nal research is required to exam­ine and estab­lish the con­nec­tion between cog­ni­tion and eat­ing habits.





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