CHICAGO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The Mediterranean diet, which reduces the risk of heart disease, some cancers and diabetes, may also reduce cognitive decline, U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago say the Mediterranean diet -- lots of vegetables, fish, olive oil, legumes, non-refined cereals and moderate consumption of wine and other alcohol -- is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older adults.
Lead author Christy Tangney says the study involved 3,759 older residents of the south side of Chicago who are part of the Chicago Healthy Aging Project. The study subjects -- age 65 and older -- had a cognitive assessment that tested memory and basic math skills and they also completed questionnaires on the frequency with which they consumed 139 food items ranging from cereals and olive oil to red meat and alcohol.
Out of a maximum score of 55 -- indicating complete adherence to the Mediterranean diet -- the average study participant scored 28.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found those with higher scores for the Mediterranean diet had cognitive tests that showed a slower rate of decline, even after factoring for education.
"The more we can incorporate vegetables, olive oil and fish into our diets and moderate wine consumption, the better for our aging brains and bodies," Tangney says in a statement.