Seniors who eat more of the foods found in a Mediterranean diet are relatively less likely to show symptoms of cognitive decline, a U.S. study has found.

Foods associated with the diet include olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, whole grains and red wine. Study participants whose diet included more of these foods showed relatively less deterioration in visual spatial organization and memory, attention and global cognitive function over a five-year period, reported Alexandra Wade, Ph.D., University of South Australia.

The findings are observational, but may indicate that adherence to a Mediterranean diet keeps age- and disease-related cognitive decline at bay, concluded Wade and her colleagues from the University of Maine.

A unique factor in the study is its focus on U.S. adults, the authors noted. Most prior research on the diet has followed Mediterranean populations. The researchers used data from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study, a U.S. study of aging, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cognitive function launched in 1974. 

Results were published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.