Intriguing research has surfaced, indicating that adherence to a Mediterranean diet may curtail the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The research was carried out by the University of California, San Francisco, where they analyzed the diets of around 6,000 elderly adults. Results from the study suggested that those who observed a Mediterranean diet experienced a decreased risk of cognitive deterioration.

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a gastronomic approach based on the customary foods and beverages of the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. It is usually composed of copious amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil. Red meat, processed foods, and sugary drinks are limited or avoided altogether, as per the dietary regime.

How the study was conducted

Researchers combed through data from the Health and Retirement Study, a survey that covers individuals over the age of 50. The team inspected the diets of 5,907 participants, followed them for an average of 7.6 years, and noted 608 instances of cognitive decay.

The findings

The results showed that those who complied with a Mediterranean diet faced a 30% reduction in the risk of cognitive decline compared to those who disregarded the diet. The effect was more pronounced for those already at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, with a 35% decrease in cognitive decline reported upon the adoption of the diet.

Why the Mediterranean diet may help

The study authors hypothesized that the Mediterranean diet may offer protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease due to its abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds assist in safeguarding the brain from damage and inflammation, both of which play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Apart from the potential to decrease the risk of cognitive decline, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a plethora of other health benefits, such as:

Reduced risk of heart disease

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by an abundance of heart-healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish. It is low in saturated fat and processed foods, with several studies suggesting that following this diet can decrease the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.

Improved blood sugar control

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber and whole grains, known to aid in regulating blood sugar levels. Research has shown that adopting a Mediterranean diet can improve blood sugar control among individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Weight loss

The Mediterranean diet is not a weight loss diet per se, but it is naturally low in calories and high in fiber. This characteristic can help facilitate weight loss, with research indicating that those who observe a Mediterranean diet tend to have lower body weights and BMIs compared to those who do not.


The recently conducted study contributes to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential benefits of adopting a Mediterranean diet for overall health and brain health, in particular. The diet is relatively easy to follow and centers on nutrient-dense, whole foods that are readily available. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into one’s diet may lead to a decreased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease while simultaneously reaping numerous other health benefits.