Want your memory to stay sharp in old age? Eat less red meat and more oily fish
- A Mediterranean diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can help preserve memory and thinking abilities
- People who more closely followed a Mediterranean diet had a 19 per cent reduced risk of mental impairment
- Oily fish, flax seed, walnuts and pulses are known to benefit the brain and nervous system
Scientists in the U.S. studied the diets of 17,478 people with an average age of 64.
Participants were given tests that measured mental ability over an average of four years.
During the course of the study, seven per cent developed memory and thinking deficits.
The study found people who more closely followed a Mediterranean diet had a 19 per cent reduced risk of mental impairment.
A key element of the Mediterranean diet is omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, flax seed, walnuts and pulses, which are known to benefit the brain and nervous system.
The diet typically also contains high levels of fresh fruit and vegetables and low levels of saturated fat.
The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology.
Lead researcher Dr Georgios Tsivgoulis, from the universities of Alabama in the US and Athens in Greece, said:
'Since there are no definitive treatments for most dementing illnesses, modifiable activities, such as diet, that may delay the onset of symptoms of dementia are very important.
'Diet is an important modifiable activity that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life. However, it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in late-life mental functioning.
Exercise, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important.'
Other recent research found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can cut heart attacks, strokes and death rates in people at high risk of heart disease by as much as a third.
Previous studies have compared the effects of the diet on people after they have suffered a heart attack or stroke – with many showing improved heart health.
But this research, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, was the first to rigorously test the effects on a high-risk group.
In fact, the study of around 7,500 people was halted early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it would have been unethical not to recommend the diet to all those taking part.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2316733/Want-memory-stay-sharp-old-age-Eat-red-meat-oily-fish.html#ixzz2SF3NJWsb
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