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Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Memory Decline

FRIDAY, May 7, 2021 -- Following a Mediterranean-like diet (MeDi) may be protective against memory decline and mediotemporal atrophy, according to a study published online May 5 in Neurology.

Tommaso Ballarini, Ph.D., from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, and colleagues analyzed cross-sectional data from the German Longitudinal Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Study involving 512 individuals: 169 cognitively normal, 53 Alzheimer disease (AD) relatives, 209 with subjective cognitive decline, and 81 with mild cognitive impairment. MeDi adherence was defined based on food frequency questionnaires. In 226 individuals, AD-related biomarkers (Aß42/40 ratio and pTau181) were assessed in cerebrospinal fluid.

The researchers found that higher adherence to MeDi was associated with larger mediotemporal gray matter volume, better memory, and less amyloid (Aß42/40 ratio) and pTau181 pathology. The association between MeDi and memory was partially mediated by mediotemporal volume (40 percent indirect mediation). The associations between Aß42/40 ratio, pTau181, and mediotemporal atrophy were favorably moderated by MeDi. After correcting for ApoE-ε4 status, the results were consistent.

"Our study suggests that eating a diet that's high in unsaturated fats, fish, fruits, and vegetables, and low in dairy and red meat may actually protect your brain from the protein build-up that can lead to memory loss and dementia," Ballarini said in a statement. "These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on."

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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