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Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain

People who scored highest in adherence to diet least likely to suffer mental decline, study finds

TUESDAY, April 27, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a Mediterranean diet may help keep your brain healthy as you age, findings from an ongoing study show.

"This diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fish, olive oil, lower meat consumption, and moderate wine and non-refined grain intake," study author Dr. Christy Tangney, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a news release from the American Society for Nutrition.

Rather than asking people to avoid certain foods, the study found data that "adults over age 65 should look to include more olive oil, legumes, nuts, and seeds in their diet in order to improve their recall times and other cognitive skills, such as identifying symbols and numbers," Tangney said.

The study included 4,000 adults aged 65 and older who were given a series of tests to examine their cognitive (or thinking) skills every three years over a 15-year period. Those who scored highest in following a Mediterranean diet were least likely to suffer cognitive decline, the study authors found.

"We [also] want older adults to remember that physical activity is an important part of maintaining cognitive skills," Tangney added.

The findings were slated to be presented Monday at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

More information

The AGS Foundation for Healthy Aging offers cognitive vitality tips for older adults.

SOURCE: American Society for Nutrition, news release, April 26, 2010
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