The Mediterranean diet can improve your memory no matter where you live or what your age, new research shows.
A review of 18 separate studies carried out over 5 years has found that memory was particularly positively affected by the Mediterranean diet.
People on the ‘MedDiet’ saw improvements in their working memory, long-term memory and visual memory, the researchers found.
Positive effects were also seen for attention and language.
Here are ten typical ingredients of the MedDiet:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- other vegetables,
- whole grains,
- olive oil
- and wine.
The MedDiet also has relatively little red meat, little dairy and uses olive oil as the largest source of fat.
Mr Roy Hardman, the study’s first author, said:
“The most surprising result was that the positive effects were found in countries around the whole world.
So regardless of being located outside of what is considered the Mediterranean region, the positive cognitive effects of a higher adherence to a MedDiet were similar in all evaluated papers.”
Mr Hardman went on:
“Why is a higher adherence to the MedDiet related to slowing down the rate of cognitive decline?
The MedDiet offers the opportunity to change some of the modifiable risk factors.
These include reducing inflammatory responses, increasing micronutrients, improving vitamin and mineral imbalances, changing lipid profiles by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, maintaining weight and potentially reducing obesity, improving polyphenols in the blood, improving cellular energy metabolism and maybe changing the gut micro-biota, although this has not been examined to a larger extent yet.”
The benefits to memory extended to the young as well as the old, the researchers also found.
Mr Hardman said:
“I would therefore recommend people to try to adhere or switch to a MedDiet, even at an older age.
I follow the diet patterns and do not eat any red meats, chicken or pork.
I have fish two-three times per week and adhere to a Mediterranean style of eating.”
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, (Hardman et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Vegetable brain image from Shutterstock