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Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Rate of Cognitive Decline

Biracial study indicates that a Mediterranean diet can reduce cognitive decline in adults 65 and older

TUESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Following a Mediterranean diet may reduce the rate of cognitive decline in older adults, according to a study published online Dec. 22 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Christine C. Tangney, M.D., from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 2280 black and 1510 white adults aged 65 or older, who were participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, an ongoing longitudinal study. Adherence of participants to the Mediterranean dietary pattern or the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) was assessed over a mean follow-up period of 7.6 years. Cognitive function of participants was assessed at three-year intervals.

The investigators found that white participants had higher Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) scores but lower HEI-2005 scores than did black participants. After adjusting for confounding variables (age, sex, race, education, participation in cognitive activities, and energy), higher MedDiet scores were linked to slower rates of cognitive decline. This association was not seen for the HEI-2005 diet.

"The present findings lend support to the premise that adherence to a Mediterranean diet as defined by MedDiet scores may afford some protection against cognitive decline in older black and white adults," the authors write.

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