(HealthDay News) – Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with slower cognitive decline in older adults, according to a review published in the July issue of Epidemiology.

Ilianna Lourida, from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies examining the association between a Mediterranean diet adherence score and cognitive function or dementia.

The researchers found 12 eligible papers (11 observational studies and one controlled trial) involving seven unique cohorts. Overall, the studies suggested a reasonably consistent pattern of associations, despite methodological heterogeneity. There was a significant association between higher adherence to Mediterranean diet and better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in nine out of twelve studies. Results for mild cognitive impairment were inconsistent.

“Our systematic review supports the hypothesis that improving adherence to the Mediterranean diet may be an effective strategy to preserve cognitive function and prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease in older adults,” the authors write.

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