A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) study suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which urges consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, chicken, and salad dressing, and avoiding saturated fats, meat, and dairy foods, may be linked to preserving memory and thinking abilities.
However, the same association was not found in people with diabetes. The research was published in the April 30 print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"Since there are no definitive treatments for most dementing illnesses, modifiable activities, such as diet, that may delay the onset of symptoms of dementia are very important," contends Dr. Georgios Tsivgoulis, a neurologist with UAB and the University of Athens, Greece.
Data came from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, housed at UAB. REGARDS enrolled more than 30,000 people ages 45 and older between January 2003 and October 2007, and it continues to follow them.
In this study, dietary information from about 17,500 Caucasians and African-Americans, average age of 64, was reviewed to see how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean diet. Study subjects also underwent tests that measured memory and thinking abilities over an average of four years. A total of 17 percent of the participants had diabetes.
The study found that in healthy people, those who followed the Mediterranean diet more closely were 19 percent less likely to develop problems with their thinking and memory skills. There wasn't a significant difference in declines between African-Americans and Caucasians. However, the Mediterranean diet wasn't associated with a lower risk of thinking and memory problems in people with diabetes.
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