cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean diet

French researchers find that previously reported cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean diet are linked with preservation of brain structure and connectivity.


Yet another study has provided added support for the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. To date, clinical studies have demonstrated benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and depression. While the Mediterranean diet has been linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, there has been very little research into the mechanisms that may account for these benefits.

Researchers from Bordeaux, France, set out to investigate the potential mechanisms that might be involved in the reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A total of 146 participants were recruited for the study. Each participant answered questionnaires, in addition to having MRI’s performed to assess brain structure up to 10 years later.

The study revealed that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with preservation of white matter microstructure in the brain. In addition, there were increases in structural connectivity within the brain, which were associated with cognitive benefits. These cognitive benefits were estimated to have the equivalence of up to a 10-year delay in cognitive ageing.

The researchers suggest that overall quality of the diet, rather than individual foods, more likely explains the benefits observed in the study. In addition, they suggest that the study provides evidence that healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, can have a marked effect on brain structure, in particular structural connectivity. This connectivity has been linked with cognitive deficiencies seen in the ageing brain. The researchers state that this study establishes a link between the Mediterranean diet and preservation of structural integrity as a mechanism for the observed benefits of the Mediterranean diet on risk of cognitive decline.



Pelletier, A, Barul, C, Féart, C, Helmer, C, Bernard, C, Periot, O, Bilharreguy, B, Dartigues, J-F, Allard, M, Barberger-Gateau, P, Catheline, G , Samieri, C. “Mediterranean diet and preserved brain structural connectivity in older subjects” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Published Online: July 16, 2015

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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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