A study published recently in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine found that seniors who added more olive oil and nuts to a healthy Mediterranean diet showed improvements in memory and thinking. The Mediterranean diet—known for being high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, while low in red meat—already has a strong reputation for being good to the heart and brain. Extra helpings of nuts and olive oil, which both provide antioxidants, was shown to help delay the onset of age-related mental decline over the study’s six-year period.
Participants were either given about 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil per week to add freely to their Mediterranean diet or they were asked to consume about 1 ounce (approximately 30 grams) of a mixture of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts per day. Other participants simply followed a low-fat diet. In tests of memory and thinking conducted during the study, the group following the Mediterranean diet with the added nuts and olive oil showed greater improvement than those on the low-fat diet.
Researchers noted that the average age of the nearly 450 adults involved in the study was 67, suggesting that a change in diet can help with brain function even if it’s made later in life.