The Mediterranean Diet has long been touted for several health benefits, but recent research found following this plan can significantly reduce the risk of dementia.
A study recently presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference in London found older adults who followed the Mediterranean diet or similar diets lowered their risk of dementia by a third.
The study out of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine studied 6,000 older adults with an average age of 68. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet had 30 to 35 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment. Other studies have shown similarly promising results. A 2015 study revealed that seniors who closely follow the Mediterranean diet had a 53 percent lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease, while those following it moderately had a 35 percent lower chance. Many studies have also shown the Mediterranean diet can help aid weight loss, and prevent heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes.
What is the Mediterranean diet?:
The Mediterranean diet is based on the diets of people living in the Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece, who have better health outcomes than those in other parts of the world.
It is a simple, plant-based diet focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and extra virgin olive oil. The diet cuts out or limits refined sugar and flour, and fats other than olive oil.
People who practice the Mediterranean diet do not eat much meat but will often eat fish and small amounts of dairy and poultry.
How to follow the Mediterranean diet:
Focus on fruits and vegetables: In the Mediterranean diet, your largest portions should be fruits and vegetables.
Use healthy fats: Avoid trans fats, such as those found in margarine and various processed foods, soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others. When cooking, stick to extra virgin olive oil, and get other sources of fat through foods like avocados, nuts, and olives.
Eat more fish: The Mediterranean diet typically involves approximately two servings of fish per week.
Avoid added sugar: Avoid table sugar and added sugar found in soda, juices, candy, and desserts.
Avoid refined flour: Avoid refined flour found in white bread, pasta, crackers and other food items.
Avoid processed foods: Don’t eat processed foods such as hot dogs, sausages, items labeled “low fat” or “diet” or anything that looks like it was made in a factory.
Limit meat and dairy: Those on the Mediterranean diet eat poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation and only rarely eat red meat.
Don’t shy away from wine: Those who follow the Mediterranean diet strongly believe in the benefits of wine and tend to consume approximately one glass of red wine per day.
Avoid sugary drinks: Other than wine, those on the Mediterranean diet tend to drink mostly water, as well as tea and coffee. Avoid soda, juice and other sugary drinks.
By following the Mediterranean diet, you can feel good that you are taking steps to decrease your risk of several conditions, including dementia. Even if you cannot follow it closely, simply making healthy choices and incorporating some parts of the Mediterranean diet into your life is sure to improve your overall health.