Mediterranean diet associated with decreased risk of dementia

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By Joyce Yu | Friday 17 March 2023

A traditional Mediterranean diet rich in foods such as seafood, fruit and nuts could help reduce the risk of developing dementia according to a new study published in BMC Medicine this week.

The large-scale study looked at the dietary habits of 60,298 individuals from the UK Biobank and scored them according to how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet.

The researchers found that those who followed a strict Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk of developing the condition, compared with those who ate differently.

Even after accounting for possible genetic factors, the study’s findings suggested that a Mediterranean diet could be associated with a reduced risk of dementia irrespective of an individual’s genetic risk.

Commenting on the study, Dr Susan Mitchell, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“There is a wealth of evidence that eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. But evidence for specific diets is much less clear cut.

“This new, large study adds to this overall picture, but it only drew on data from people with White, British or Irish ancestry. More research is needed to build on its intriguing findings, and uncover whether these reported benefits also translate to minority communities, where historically dementia has often been misunderstood and highly stigmatised, and where awareness of how people can reduce their risk is low.

“While there are no sure-fire ways to prevent dementia yet, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, along with plenty of exercise and not smoking, all contribute to good heart health, which in turn helps to protect our brain from diseases that lead to dementia.”

 You can read more about this research in The Guardian.

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Joyce Yu