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The Impact of the Mediterranean Diet on the Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Loughrey, David G., Lavecchia, Sara, Brennan, Sabina, Lawlor, Brian A. and Kelly, Michelle E. (2017) The Impact of the Mediterranean Diet on the Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Advances in Nutrition, 8 (4). pp. 571-586. ISSN 2156-5376

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Evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests a relation between the Mediterranean diet (MeDi) and cognitive function, but results are inconsistent. Prior reviews have not provided pooled data from meta-analysis of longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or they included younger adult participants. This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the impact of the MeDi on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults. Fifteen cohort studies with 41,492 participants and 2 RCTs with 309 and 162 participants in intervention and control groups, respectively, were included. The primary outcome of interest was cognitive function, divided into domains of memory and executive function. Meta-analysis of cohort studies revealed a significant association between MeDi and older adults’ episodic memory (n = 25,369, r = 0.01, P = 0.03) and global cognition (n = 41,492, r = 0.05, P ≤ 0.001), but not working memory (n = 1487, r = 0.007, P = 0.93) or semantic memory (n = 1487, r = 0.08, P = 0.28). Meta-analysis of RCTs revealed that compared with controls, the MeDi improved delayed recall (n = 429, P = 0.01), working memory (n = 566, P = 0.03), and global cognition (n = 429, P = 0.047), but not episodic memory (n = 566, P = 0.15), immediate recall (n = 566, P = 0.17), paired associates (n = 429, P = 0.20), attention (n = 566, P = 0.69), processing speed (n = 566, P = 0.35), or verbal fluency (n = 566, P = 0.12). The strongest evidence suggests a beneficial effect of the MeDi on older adults’ global cognition. This article discusses the influence of study design and components of the MeDi on cognitive function and considers possible mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Cognition
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Cognitive psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > Welfare of older people
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 16:18
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2018 13:32

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