A common answer these days is the “Mediterranean diet,” due to a combination of recently published research studies and frequent media coverage.
In fact, a study published earlier this week found that older Spanish women who were randomly assigned to stick to a Mediterranean diet — supplemented by extra olive oil — developed fewer cases of invasive breast cancer, compared to women who were merely advised to reduce dietary fat.
This study was published by the same research team that reported earlier this year that Spaniards assigned to a Mediterranean diet — supplemented with either olive oil or nuts — experienced less cognitive decline. And a 2013 report from the same group found that the Mediterranean diet led to a 30% decrease in cardiovascular events (strokes and heart attacks).
Does this mean you should hustle to make sure your older relatives are eating a Mediterranean diet? Well, maybe. I will go into the study details later in the post, but for now, let’s say that the diet used in the study seems very sensible, provided one doesn’t suffer unduly from limited access to pork and cookies.
As is the case for many lifestyle changes that might affect cancer and dementia, a healthy diet reduces risk but is just one factor among many. Still, if we’ve learned of a good way to eat, why not consider it?
So in this post, here’s what I’ll review:
- Just what people were eating, as part of the Spanish Mediterranean diet study (known as the PREDIMED study)
- What kinds of older adults PREDIMED studied in Spain, and some of the major findings of interest
- Where to find a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for diet and brain health
How to follow the PREDIMED Mediterranean diet
PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) was a big randomized control trial conducted in Spain, from 2003 to 2009. It involved 7446 peopled aged 55-80. In the next section of the post I’ll describe the study in more detail, but let’s start with what you are probably most interested in:
Just what was the PREDIMED Mediterranean diet??
Fortunately, it is possible to find the research study’s materials online, and they describe the recommended diet in detail. [Read more…]