Mediterranean Diet May Help Stave off Disease

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

Mediterranean Diet May Help Stave off Disease


Byline: Nicole Ostrow

Eating a diet rich in fish and vegetables, while low in meat and dairy, lowers an older personAEs risk of developing mild mental impairment and AlzheimerAEs disease, a study showed.

Those who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet had a 28 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor to AlzheimerAEs disease in many people, than those who didnAEt, research in the February issue of Archives of Neurology found.

The benefit was larger for those who already had cognitive impairment. People with the impairment who followed the diet closely had a 48 percent lower probability of developing AlzheimerAEs disease than those who didnAEt eat similar food, according to the study, which is among the first to examine the effect of the Mediterranean diet on the risk of this mental decline.

"ItAEs another piece of evidence that should reinforce healthy diet behavior," said lead author Nikolaos Scarmeas, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. With this study, people "have an additional reason to follow a healthy diet. It may not only help them from vascular risk factors, but it may also be helpful for their brain function as well."

About 5 million Americans ages 65 and older have AlzheimerAEs, and the number may triple by 2050, according to the AlzheimerAEs Association. …

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