New research suggests the Mediterranean diet reduces cognitive decline among some race-specific populations but not among others.

In the study, African-Americans experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline than white, older adults.

Study methodology included the analysis of over eight years of data collected in a U.S. prospective cohort study.

As discussed in the Journal of Gerontology, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev discovered that while the Mediterranean diet may have broad health benefits, its impact on cognitive decline differs among race-specific populations.

The Mediterranean-style diet (MedDiet) has fewer meat products and more plant-based foods and monounsaturated fatty acids from olive and canola oil (good) than a typical American diet.

To assess the association between MedDiet score and brain function, researcher used data from several Modified Mini-Mental State Examinations (3MS) administered to 2,326 participating older adults (70-79).

The 3MS is an extensively used and validated instrument designed to measure several cognitive domains to screen for cognitive impairment and commonly used to screen for dementia.

“In a population of initially well-functioning older adults, we found a significant correlation between strong adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a slower rate of cognitive decline among African-Americans, but not white, older adults.

“Our study is the first to show a possible race-specific association between the Mediterranean diet and cognitive decline,” said Danit R. Shahar R.D., Ph.D.

The researchers note that further studies in diverse populations are necessary to confirm association between the MedDiet and cognitive decline, and to pinpoint factors that may explain these results.

Source: Ben-Gurion University