We’ve all heard that a Mediterranean diet can offer dietary benefits that help your heart and lower your cholesterol, but now a new study has surfaced that suggests that a Mediterranean diet may also help slow cognitive decline in older adults and help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to three years.

Researchers believe that foods that improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health, benefit your brain. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish, which are all part of the Mediterranean diet, help prevent brain tissue loss associated with Alzheimer’s.

However, that is not to say that following a Mediterranean diet will eliminate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. More research and clinical trials are needed on Alzheimer’s-related changes in the brains among people carrying the apolipoprotein E (APOE e4) gene, which is thought to increase Alzheimer’s risk, and to what degree a Mediterranean diet prevents or slows the progression of cognitive decline.

Nonetheless, eating a healthy diet is important to staying physically and mentally fit. It’s important to understand how food and its nutrients affect our health. A whole diet approach, like a Mediterranean diet, may be a good way of creating good eating habits and making smart choices.

A Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve health and includes plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. It also encourages eating moderate amounts of fish, white meat and some dairy. Instead of butter, try using olive oil, and reduce salt intake. Also, eat red meat sparingly.

It may not help to try one or two of these foods and expect any results; it’s the combination of all these dietary tactics that may bring health benefits. Also, don’t cut out all fat. Some fat is healthy for our brains, such as olive oil, which is a monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fats, which are also present in nuts, seeds and oily fish.

The Mediterranean diet may not have the power to eradicate Alzheimer’s completely or even reduce the risk significantly, but if there is some chance that it can improve life, it may be worth a try. Finding ways to help those diagnosed with dementia or memory impairment—as well as giving families an improved quality of life—is my goal.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you are interested in my dementia caregiver training services.