Mediterranean diet improves cognition in old age

A new study of people in their seventies shows that you can build better cognitive health in old age by eating a better—and delicious—diet.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and olive oil. It is moderate in fish and very low in red meat, sugar and saturated fats. It is well documented to keep you young and healthy in multiple ways, including being good for your heart, good for your weight, good for preventing breast and prostate cancer and being good for your mood.   

It’s also really good for your brain. Researchers looked at the diets of 511 people whose average age was about 74. They found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, specifically, people who more closely followed the diet had significantly better verbal ability.

The opposite was true for people who followed a more typical processed dietary pattern. That diet was associated with poorer cognitive function and lower IQ. Specifically, again, they had poorer verbal ability.

The researchers say that specific features of the healthier diet seem to play a key role, reporting that eating more green leafy vegetables and less red meat are associated with better cognitive function. Remember, the name red meat is deceptive: red meat actually includes beef, lamb and pork.

This study adds to an already large body of evidence for the Mediterranean diet’s beneficial effect on cognition. A review of 5 studies of over 7,000 seniors found that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.

Experimental Gerontology December 2020;142:111117

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For much more on eating a delicious diet that benefits cognitive health see Linda’s newest cookbook, The All-New Vegetarian Passport Cookbook, a complete cookbook and health book in one.

For much more on preventing and treating Alzheimer’s naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia

For comprehensive help with cognition, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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