According to a study carried out in New York, those who follow a Mediterranean diet may be protecting themselves from developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A Mediterranean diet involves eating more fruit, vegetables, olive oil and cereals and less meat and dairy than the Northern European or North American diet.

The study involved asking 2,258 elderly men to follow a Mediterranean diet for four years. None of them had any form of dementia at the beginning of the study. They were prospectively evaluated every 1.5 years. The main predictors for this group were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, education, apolipoprotein E genotype, caloric intake, smoking, medical comorbidity index, and body mass index. During those four years, 262 of them were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that the more people stuck to a Mediterranean diet, the lower were their chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers had developed a diet adherence score, from 0 to 9 – nine being the highest. Those with the highest adherence score had a 40% lower risk of Alzheimer’s than those at the bottom. Those in the middle had a 15-21% lower risk than those at the bottom.

The researchers said you cannot pinpoint one particular food or ingredient and just use that for protection. The Mediterranean diet, overall, seems to offer the protection.

This is the first large study that looked at a diet in general, rather than particular ingredients in isolation.

Previous research on the Meditteranean diet have revealed many benefits – cardiovascular, longevity, lower incidences of cancer, maintaining good weight – and now, Alzheimer’s disease protection.

You can read about this study in Annals of Neurology (April Issue).

The study was funded by:
— NIH (National Institute on Aging, Columbia University General Clinical Research Center); Grant Number: AG07232, AG07702, AG15294-06, 1K08AG20856-01, RR00645
— Charles S. Robertson Memorial Gift for Research in Alzheimer’s disease
— Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Foundation
— New York City Council Speaker’s Fund for Public Health Research
— Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today