Purpose of review: We reviewed the most recent literature examining the associations between the Mediterranean-style diet (MD), neurodegenerative diseases, and markers and mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
Recent findings: Most, but not all, epidemiologic studies report a protective association between MD adherence, cognitive impairment, and brain health. Data from clinical trials supporting these observational findings are also emerging. Limited evidence suggests that MD adherence may be protective for Parkinson's disease risk. Mechanistically, plant polyphenols may activate similar molecular pathways as caloric restriction diets, which helps explain the neuroprotective properties of the MD. Evidence for cognitive disorders is abundant, but there is a dearth of literature for other neurodegenerative disorders and for markers of neurodegeneration. Further research is needed to elucidate the protective role of MD on neurodegeneration, the most salient components of the MD, and the most sensitive time periods over the lifecourse at which the MD may exert its effects.
Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Brain health; Dementia; Epidemiology; Mediterranean diet; Neurodegeneration; Neurodegenerative disease.