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A Mediterranean diet may prevent mental disorders

November 7, 2013

A new data analysis from Greece shows that long-term adherence to a diet rich in vitamins, carotenoids and essential fatty acids may contribute significantly to the prevention of a variety of neurological and cardiovascular diseases.

The meta-analysis included the results of 22 observational and case-control studies investigating a potential relationship between the Mediterranean diet and neurological or cardiovascular disorders (1). The analysis showed that high adherence to a healthy dietary pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, may be beneficial to the central nervous and cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of developing cognitive impairment (by 40%), depression (by 32%) and a stroke (by 29%). A moderate adherence to the Mediterranean diet also seemed to confer protection against cognitive dysfunctions, but to a lesser extent. Its protective effects against stroke remained only marginal. The protective effects of the diet in stroke prevention seemed more sizeable among males, whereas the favorable actions of moderate adherence concerning depression seemed to decrease with advancing age.

The researchers commented that, given the limited availability of pharmaceutical agents to treat cognitive impairment, cognitive decline, and strokes, it is important to argue for the importance of preventive meas- ures, such as a healthy dietary regimen, to diminish the risk of mild and advanced cognitive decline, Alzhei- mer’s disease, depression, and strokes. The results also indicate a dose–response relationship between diet and disease risk reduction.

References

  1. Psaltopoulou T. et al. Mediterranean diet, stroke, cognitive impairment, and depression: A meta-analysis. Annals of Neurology. Published online October 2013.