Dementia is a major global health challenge, as its burden on society will increase with
population aging. Given the lack of effective pharmaceutical treatment for common types of dementia
including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, research interest in lifestyle modifications that
could prevent, postpone the clinical syndrome or decelerate progression of dementia is growing. Among the various dietary
patterns that were tested for their effects on cognition, the traditional Mediterranean diet (MeDi) has shown promising
results. This review aims to summarize the epidemiological evidence on the effects of MeDi on the prevention of dementia,
presenting data from cross-sectional as well as longitudinal observational studies conducted both in Mediterranean
and non-Mediterranean countries. These findings have been also reproduced in the context of one recent randomizedcontrolled
clinical trial. Postulated mechanisms of action that may account for the potential protective effect of MeDi on
cognitive impairment will be briefly discussed. Despite the fact that the link between MeDi and cognitive decline has been
only explored for less than a decade, data on efficacy is rapidly increasing and allows optimism that MeDi could emerge
as an alternative prophylactic treatment for dementia.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, dementia, mediterranean diet, primary prevention, Public Health.
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