Following a Mediterranean diet may be associated with higher levels of cognitive function, according to a study by the Spanish prospective cohort, SUN project published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging. Eight hundred participants averaging 60 years old were assessed on their level of adherence to a 10-point (0-9)Mediterranean diet (MedDiet Score) and the relationship between their cognitive function. Two assessments during 8 years, revealed a higher cognitive decline in those who did not follow a Mediterranean diet. Further studies are needed to confirm and explore these results, yet the data ia certainly intriguing as it may apply to prevention of dementia in our aging populations.
A Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, leading to an overall healthier status. The diet is front-loaded with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes/beans, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and and includes alcohol and red meat in moderation. It is neither a low calorie diet or low fat diet, but noticeably absent are processed foods, sugary beverages and saturated fats. Socialization during mealtime, active lifestyle and home cooking with fresh ingredients are hallmarks of the lifestyle. The diet is not limited to Spanish or Greek food, for example. but its principles can be applied to a spectrum of culinary tastes and international cuisines.
In order to rate your 10 point modified MedDiet Score and see if you are eating a Mediterranean diet, take the following quiz. Give yourself 1 point if the answer to each question is yes.
- I eat 2 or more cups of vegetables per day.
- I eat 2 or more pieces of fruit per day.
- I eat 2 servings of whole grains per day. (not white bread)
- I drink 1/2-1 glass of wine (women) per day; I drink 1-2 glasses of wine per day (men) Cannot be more.
- I eat nuts almost everyday.
- I eats beans/ legumes at least two times per week.
- I eat fish 2 or more times per week.
- I choose olive oil over butter and saturated fats.
- I eat red meat and/or processed foods less than five times per month.
Here is how it adds up:
- Score 8-9: You are doing a great job!
- Score 6-7: Good job. Can you do better?
- Score 4-5: Room for improvements to your diet.
- Score 0-3: Dietary intervention!