This diet may improve cognition

In December 2013, researchers in Spain published a study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, showing a connection between diet and cognition.

What did the researchers study?

The researchers enrolled over 500 participants into a multicentre, randomized, primary prevention trial. Participants were split into two groups: those eating a low-fat control diet and those eating the so-called Mediterranean diet. In addition, those in the Mediterranean diet were split into two subgroups: those supplementing with additional mixed nuts and those supplementing with additional extra virgin olive oil.

After the participants underwent nutritional intervention for 6.5 years, the researchers examined cognitive performance.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

A 2003 study defined the traditional Mediterranean diet as follows:

  • High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, and cereals
  • High intake of olive oil
  • Low intake of saturated fats
  • Moderately high intake of fish (depending on sea proximity)
  • Low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (mostly in the form of cheese or yogurt)
  • Low intake of meat and poultry
  • Regular but moderate intake of ethanol (primarily wine and generally during meals)

What did the researchers find?

The researchers discovered that participants in both Mediterranean subgroups (even when adjusting for demographics, family medical history, and other lifestyle choices) had significantly higher scores in their cognition examinations when compared to those in the low-fat control group.

This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.