A new study published in BMC Medicine highlights the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, revealing that incorporating these healthy and delicious foods into meals can help reduce the risk of dementia.
Analyzing data from over 60,000 seniors, the study found that individuals whose diets closely followed the Mediterranean guidelines had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia, even among those with a higher genetic risk.
The diet, full of the kind of luscious, plant-based foods you might find in the azure sea off the coast of Greece – like olive oil, fruits, nuts, legumes, and fish – combined with lesser amounts of red/processed meat, sweets, pastries, and sugar-sweetened drinks, can have a meaningful positive effect on not only overall health, but specifically on dementia prevention.
To meet the “perfect” Mediterranean diet score, the researchers advised that weekly consumption should include: olive oil as the main cooking fat, 2 or more servings of vegetables per day, 3 or more servings of fruit per day, less than 1 serving of red/processed meat per day, less than 1 serving of butter, margarine or cream per day, less than 1 sugar-sweetened drink per day, 3 or more servings of legumes, such as beans, lentils or peanuts, per week, 3 or more servings of fish per week, less than 2 servings of sweets or pastries per week, 3 or more servings of nuts per week, more white meat than red meat in the diet, and 2 or more servings of a tomato-based sauce per week.
While the Mediterranean diet can have a positive impact on health, even those who have not yet developed a taste for it need not fret. Experts agree that it is never too late for lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of dementia. Sleep, blood pressure management, and healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels are also important, and these are not reliant on one’s palate.
To protect against the damaging affects of dementia, the Mediterranean diet is a good place to start. When it comes to overall health, longevity, and dementia prevention, the more closely people adopt the diet, the more benefit they can reap.