Adopting one of the globally recognized and esteemed diets may diminish your chances of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. One particular component of this diet appears to be especially beneficial.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health delved deeper into the Mediterranean diet, seeking to identify specific elements that safeguard cognitive abilities. “Cognition” essentially encapsulates mental faculties such as memory, language, thinking, and attention.
Many previous studies have identified a correlation between adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet and improved brain health. Indeed, we have previously highlighted the diet’s contribution in mitigating dementia risk in the feature “7 Lifestyle Changes That May Help Prevent Dementia.”
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of fish and the use of olive oil in food preparation. Moderate intake of red wine is also a characteristic aspect of this diet. Other foods incorporated in this diet encompass:
In the NIH study, roughly 7,750 participants were monitored over five to ten years, during which their dietary habits were recorded. The participants also underwent cognitive assessments related to memory, language, and attention.
The investigators aimed to decipher how dietary choices affected two dimensions of cognition:
- Risk of cognitive impairment: This gauges the likelihood of an individual’s cognitive performance deteriorating compared to their peers.
- Risk of cognitive decline: This measures the possibility of an individual’s cognition worsening over time.
The researchers discovered that consuming fish yielded significant benefits. As per a report by Harvard Health Publishing on the study:
“Fish emerged as the paramount dietary factor in reducing the risk of cognitive impairment, followed by vegetables. Other foods showed marginal, inconsequential effects. Among all foods evaluated, only fish was correlated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. Including fish in the diet decreased both the risks of cognitive impairment and cognitive decline.”
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that while the consumption of fish is advantageous, certain fish varieties contain high levels of potentially detrimental mercury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides guidelines about which types of fish are safest to consume.
Apart from safeguarding cognitive health, the Mediterranean diet has also been associated with additional health benefits. Earlier this year, a panel of experts ranking the best diets for well-being awarded most of the top accolades to this diet.