A Mediterranean Diet with Fresh, Lean Pork Improves Processing Speed and Mood: Cognitive Findings from the MedPork Randomised Controlled Trial

Nutrients. 2019 Jul 4;11(7):1521. doi: 10.3390/nu11071521.


Background: The Mediterranean diet may be capable of improving cognitive function. However, the red meat restrictions of the diet could impact long-term adherence in Western populations. The current study therefore examined the cognitive effects of a Mediterranean diet with additional red meat.

Methods: A 24-week parallel crossover design compared a Mediterranean diet with 2-3 weekly servings of fresh, lean pork (MedPork) and a low-fat (LF) control diet. Thirty-five participants aged between 45 and 80 years and at risk of cardiovascular disease followed each intervention for 8 weeks, separated by an 8-week washout period. Cognitive function was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Psychological well-being was measured through the SF-36 Health Survey and mood was measured using the Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Results: During the MedPork intervention, participants consumed an average of 3 weekly servings of fresh pork. Compared to LF, the MedPork intervention led to higher processing speed performance (p = 0.01) and emotional role functioning (p = 0.03). No other significant differences were observed between diets.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that a Mediterranean diet inclusive of fresh, lean pork can be adhered to by an older non-Mediterranean population while leading to positive cognitive outcomes.

Keywords: MedDiet; ageing; cardiovascular disease; cognitive function; protein.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritive Value
  • Pork Meat*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Serving Size
  • South Australia
  • Time Factors