The traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in foods such as seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts, is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, according to research published in the journal "BMC Medicine".
According to the research, people who follow the Mediterranean diet had up to a 23% lower risk of dementia compared to those who consumed Mediterranean foods less often.
Diet may be an important risk factor for dementia and could be targeted for disease prevention and risk reduction, yet previous studies investigating the impact of the Mediterranean diet were usually limited to a small sample and low number of dementia cases.
In the present study, the researchers, led by Oliver Shannon from the University of Newcastle, analysed data from 60,298 people from the UK biomedical database Biobank, who had completed a nutritional assessment.
The authors also looked at each person's genetic risk for dementia by estimating polygenic risk, meaning all the different genes associated with dementia risk.
In the study, there was no significant interaction between polygenic risk for dementia and those following the Mediterranean diet.
Researchers believe this may indicate that the association of greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of dementia remains independent of individual genetic risk. However, they say further research is needed to assess the interaction between diet and genetics on dementia risk.
Also, the researchers caution that their analysis was limited to people who self-identified as white, British or Irish, and that further research is needed in a range of populations to determine the potential benefit.
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