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Mediterranean diet and cognitive health: an update of available knowledge

Feart, Catherine; Samieri, Cécilia; Barberger-Gateau, Pascale

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2015 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 51–62
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000131
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Tommy Cederholm and John E. Morley

Purpose of review Nutrition constitutes an interesting approach for the prevention of age-related brain disorders. The objective of this review was to examine the most recent evidence on the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet (MeDi) and cognitive health among elderly individuals.

Recent findings Based on available epidemiological studies, two meta-analyses published in 2013 have underlined a protective effect of a greater MeDi adherence on cognitive health, including a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment. Since then, six additional studies, from longitudinal cohorts or post-hoc analyses of randomized controlled trials conducted in the USA and Europe, have been published and provided mixed results. Potential reasons for such discrepancies include methodological limitations inherent to observational studies, and interactions between diet, environmental factors, such as those enhancing cognitive reserve, chronic diseases, and genetic factors.

Summary Overall, available evidence suggests that the MeDi might exert a long-term beneficial effect on brain functioning. However, more high-powered observational studies with long-term follow-up for cognition and randomized controlled trials assessing the impact of shifting to a MeDi on cognitive functions are still needed in various populations.

INSERM, ISPED and University Bordeaux, ISPED, Centre INSERM U897-Epidemiologie-Biostatistique, Bordeaux, France

Correspondence to Catherine Feart, Equipe Epidémiologie de la nutrition et des comportements alimentaires, INSERM, U897, Université de Bordeaux, ISPED, 146 rue Léo-Saignat, CS61292, F-33076 Bordeaux, Cedex, France. Tel: +33 5 47 30 42 04; fax: +33 5 57 57 14 86; e-mail:

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