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AAN: Mediterranean Diet May Help Preserve Cognition

Adherent patients more likely to avoid mild cognitive impairment or progression to Alzheimer's

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who adhere to the Mediterranean diet -- which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in animal protein -- may have a reduced risk of either developing mild cognitive impairment or progressing from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Chicago.

Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues studied three groups of subjects: group 1 included 1,639 subjects who were free of mild cognitive impairment or dementia at baseline; group 2 included 504 subjects with mild cognitive impairment at baseline; and group 3 included 214 subjects with Alzheimer's disease. After a median follow-up of 4.3 years, 334 subjects from group 1 developed mild cognitive impairment. After a median follow-up of 4.2 years, 109 subjects from group 2 developed Alzheimer's disease.

In the first group, the researchers found that those in the middle and highest tertiles for Mediterranean diet adherence had a significantly lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (hazard ratios 0.75 and 0.74, respectively) compared to those in the lowest tertile. In group 2, they found that those in middle and highest tertiles had a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (HR, 0.56 for both groups).

"Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet may protect from Alzheimer's disease," the authors write. "The association between the Mediterranean and mild cognitive impairment has not [previously] been investigated."

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