Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC, FSCCT

It is believed that ‘oxidative’ stress and atherosclerosis contribute partly to age related loss of cognitive ability. Studies using the so called “Mediterranean Diet” – an antioxidant rich diet of low carbohydrates, plentiful fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and lean sources of protein – may be the most beneficial in lowering the risk for heart and vascular disease.

A new study done from Barcelona, Spain enrolled individuals at high cardiovascular risk with randomized assignment to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts [30 g/day] or a standard low fat [American Heart Association] diet.
Follow up cognitive tests showed the participants allocated to a Mediterranean diet plus olive oil and nuts at 4.1 years did much better than those assigned the low fat diet.

Dr. Rumberger comments: the newest data suggest that the ‘low fat’ hypothesis, advocated primarily by the American Heart Association for the past 40 years, and based on research done in the 50’s and 60’s is misleading and that the issues of ‘fat’ in the diet have limited effect on the future development of heart disease. During these years with ‘low fat diets’ we have seen significant increases in obesity and adult onset diabetes due to problems with carbohydrates and high fructose corn syrup. The original Mediterranean Diet continues to be the one of choice for prevention of heart disease [and cancers] and apparently according to the above, continued cognitive health as we age.