Dementia is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most serious and common health problems. Current treatments don’t change the course of the disease and recent research failures offer little hope for a quick pharmacological cure.
New evidence from Spain, however, suggests that diet may influence cognitive function. Researchers recruited over 500 men and women who were at high risk for heart disease because of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, a family history of cardiovascular complications or smoking. They were randomly assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables and fruits with either extra olive oil or extra nuts. The control group followed their usual diet and were encouraged to reduce their fat intake.
After nearly several years participants were tested with the Mini Mental State Exam and the clock drawing test. These are standardized tests of cognitive function. The seniors who were following a Mediterranean dietary regimen with extra virgin olive oil performed significantly better on the mental assessment scale than people on the control diet.
The authors conclude, “An intervention with MedDiets enhanced with either EVOO [extra virgin olive oil] or nuts appears to improve cognition compared with a low-fat diet…Our findings support increasing evidence on the protective effects of the MedDiet on cognitive function.”
You can learn more about the nuts and olives (and other specific foods) in the Mediterranean diet in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Not only do we have specific foods that you should include in your daily diet, we also have some of our favorite recipes.