The Mediterranean Diet and Cognitive Health

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Do you find yourself dreaming of a Mediterranean vacation?

Even if you can’t visit, you can bring the Mediterranean home instead. And in doing so, help your cognitive health.

Studies show that adopting a Mediterranean diet can help maintain cognitive function – according to one report, the results showed that “higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in nine out of 12 studies”.

Adopting the Mediterranean diet means making these items staples of your meal planning:

  • Fish & seafood (at least twice a week)
  • Poultry
  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Nuts, seeds & legumes
  • Whole grains, including pasta and bread
  • Healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Herbs & spices

Water is the most prominent beverage as part of the Mediterranean diet, although some studies suggest a glass of red wine can be beneficial too. Coffee and tea that don’t include sugar or cream are also acceptable.

As part of the diet, here are items you’ll want to avoid:

  • Processed food (fast food, etc.)
  • Processed meat (beef jerky, hot dogs, etc.)
  • Sugar-heavy food (candy, soda, ice cream, etc.)
  • Refined grains (white bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Trans fats (margarine, etc.)

For meal planning in the Mediterranean diet, consider the following ideas for each meal of the day:

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with granola, oatmeal with berries, whole wheat toast, omelets

Lunch: Whole grain sandwiches, quinoa salads, whole grain pasta dishes

Dinner: Greek salad, salmon with brown rice, grilled chicken with vegetables

Snacks: Vegetables with hummus, fruit with almond butter, nuts, Greek yogurt

Red meat is fine from time to time but should be eaten in moderation.

Any adjustment in diet can require significant changes in your habits – so start small and work your way up. For example, you can start by substituting fish for red meat once a week or changing white bread to whole wheat. Every small step towards eating better and fueling your body is a step in the right direction.

Meal Planning & Prep For Brain Health

What you put into your body has a significant effect on your cognitive health, but taking care of your brain through diet starts before you sit down to eat – just the acts of meal planning and grocery shopping can be beneficial.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, planning and prepping a meal are executive functions of the brain, which “help us plan and control goal-directed thoughts and actions”.

He goes on to say: “Executive functions test our ability to organize, prioritize, sustain focus, solve problems, retrieve memories and multitask.” From creating a meal plan, driving to the store, purchasing the items and cooking your meal, the entire process is as vital to cognitive health as it is to physical health.

Restaurant-Quality Dining At Prestige

The Mediterranean diet is just one element of nutrition important for older adults. At Prestige, our dining program caters to the unique dietary and nutritional needs of older adults. Our talented culinary teams create varied meal plans that are both delicious and healthy.

We encourage you to contact the Prestige community nearest you to learn more about our dining and how it helps keep our residents healthy.