According to scientists, a Mediterranean diet, rich in nuts, seafood, whole grains and vegetables, is associated with an up to 23% lower risk of dementia.
The findings published in the journal BMC Medicine are based on data from more than 60,000 people from the UK Biobank – an online database of the medical and lifestyle records of more than half a million Britons.
But the researchers noted that the findings are based primarily on European ancestry and that more studies are needed in a wider range of populations to determine the potential benefit.
However, they added that a Mediterranean diet with lots of plant-based foods could still be “an important intervention” in future public health strategies to reduce dementia risk.
The doctor. Oliver Shannon, Professor of Human Nutrition and Aging at Newcastle University, lead author of the study, said: “Dementia affects the lives of millions of people around the world, and there are currently limited options for treating this disease.
“Finding ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia is therefore a high priority for researchers and clinicians.
“Our study suggests that a more Mediterranean diet may be a strategy to help individuals reduce their risk of dementia.
Doctor Shannon and his colleagues analyzed data from 60,298 people who completed a dietary assessment.
The researchers scored the subjects using two measures of adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
In nearly a decade, there have been 882 cases of dementia.
The authors also took into account each individual’s genetic risk of dementia.
They found that people who followed a strict Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia than those who had a low compliance score.
The researchers also said the Mediterranean diet had a “protective effect” against dementia, regardless of a person’s genetic risk, but added that more studies were needed to explore this finding.
Study co-author Dr Janice Ranson, a researcher at the University of Exeter, said: “The results of this large population-based study underscore the long-term brain health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
“The protective effect of this diet against dementia was evident regardless of a person’s genetic risk, and so it is likely to be a beneficial lifestyle choice for people looking to make healthy food choices. and reduce their risk of dementia.” .
Commenting on the study, Dr. Susan Mitchell, Policy Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There is ample evidence that a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
“But the evidence for specific diets is much less clear.
“This large new study adds to that overall picture, but was based only on data from people of white, British or Irish ancestry.
“Further research is needed to build on their intriguing findings and uncover whether these reported benefits also translate to minority communities, where historically dementia has often been misunderstood and heavily stigmatized, and where awareness of how people can reduce their risk is low. .
“While there are still no surefire ways to prevent dementia, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with plenty of exercise and not smoking, contributes to good heart health, which helps protect our brain against diseases that lead to dementia. “.