More benefits from the Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean-style diet that appears to cut the risk of heart disease also may help protect against Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.
People who followed the diet were up to 40 percent less likely than those who largely avoided it to develop Alzheimer's during the course of the research, scientists reported.
The diet tested includes eating lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and fish, while limiting intake of meat and dairy products, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and emphasizing monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil, over saturated fats. Previous research has suggested that such an approach can reduce the risk of heart disease.
The idea that a heart-healthy diet could also help fight Alzheimer's fits in with growing evidence that "the kinds of things we associate with being bad for our heart turn out to be bad for our brain."
Researchers followed 2,258 elderly residents of northern Manhattan for an average of four years. The participants were asked in detail about their dietary habits and evaluated every 18 months or so for signs of dementia. None showed any dementia at the start of the study, but by the end, 262 had developed Alzheimer's.
To look for an effect of diet, the researchers gave each participant a score of 0 to 9 to nine on a scale that measured how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet. Compared to those showing the lowest adherence, those who scored 4 or 5 showed 15 percent to 25 percent less risk of developing Alzheimer's during the study, while those with higher scores had about 40 percent less risk.
The Mediterranean diet.
See a video on the benefits of the Mediterranean-style diet. Scroll down to the November 28, 2005 entry.
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