Diet seen to cut Alzheimer's risk sharply

April 18, 2006

A Columbia University study has found that the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 40 percent.

The study, one of the largest on the impact of food and drink on mental decline, appeared Tuesday in the Annals of Neurology, reports Britain's Independent newspaper. The study monitored 2,258 healthy, elderly people in New York who were part of a research project into aging, it said.

Earlier studies have said the diet of southern France, Italy and Spain, which also includes red wine, protects against heart disease and high blood pressure. The new study is the first to show its impact on Alzheimer's disease, says the report.

In the study, those who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet, eating lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, some fish and alcohol with little dairy food and meat had the lowest risk of Alzheimer's, down by 39 to 40 percent. Those who only partially followed the diet had a reduced risk of 15 to 20 percent compared to those who consumed the typical American diet of hamburgers and ice cream.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Baycrest creates first Canadian Brain Health Food Guide for adults

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