The Association between the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern and Cognitive Health: A Systematic Review

Nutrients. 2017 Jun 28;9(7):674. doi: 10.3390/nu9070674.


The ageing population is accompanied by increased rates of cognitive decline and dementia. Not only does cognitive decline have a profound impact on an individual's health and quality of life, but also on that of their caregivers. The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been known to aid in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. It has been recently linked to better cognitive function in the elderly population. The purpose of this review was to compile evidence based data that examined the effect of adherence to the MD on cognitive function and the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. This review followed PRISMA guidelines and was conducted using four databases and resulted in 31 articles of interest. Cross-sectional studies and cohort studies in the non-Mediterranean region showed mixed results. However, cohort studies in the Mediterranean region and randomized controlled trials showed more cohesive outcomes of the beneficial effect of the MD on cognitive function. Although more standardized and in-depth studies are needed to strengthen the existing body of evidence, results from this review indicate that the Mediterranean diet could play a major role in cognitive health and risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Mediterranean; ageing; cognition; cognitive function; dementia; diet; nutrition.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Cognition*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors