Posted: Tue 18/04/2006
People who eat a Mediterranean diet may be at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the results of a new study indicate.
A team of researchers followed the progress of over 2,200 people who did not show any signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. The participants underwent a number of medical assessments, including a neurological exam. Their dietary habits were also recorded.
They were then reassessed every 18 months for an average of four years. During the course of the study, 262 people developed Alzheimer's.
The participants were given a 'Mediterranean diet score' of between zero and nine, depending on how much they adhered to this diet.
The Mediterranean diet involves a high intake of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta. Dairy products, fish, poultry and wine are consumed in low to moderate amounts, while red meat is rarely eaten.
The study found that the higher a person scored, the lower the risk of Alzheimer's. In fact, for each additional point on the Mediterranean diet score, the risk of Alzheimer's fell by almost 10%.
Compared with those who scored the lowest, those who scored in the middle were 15-21% less likely to develop Alzheimer's, while those who scored the highest were up to 40% less likely to develop the disease.
The researchers concluded that 'higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduction in risk for Alzheimer's disease'.
Details of this study are published in the journal, Annals of Neurology.