Choosing a diet to improve memory function

Author: Kaylee Dunbar   Date Posted:24 September 2015 

Are you looking for a natural, cost effective and easily accessible way to support your memory?  Do you find it hard to remember to take your supplements that you know are supposed to help support your memory in the first place?!

Well we have some good news for you! According to recent research you may be able to help support your memory by what you eat.

A randomised clinical trial investigated the use of three different diets, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or a low fat control diet in 450 cognitively healthy participants. The average age of the participants were 67 years of age. 


  • 155 of the participants were assigned to a Mediterranean diet with one litre of extra virgin olive oil per week.
  • 147 of the participants were also assigned a Mediterranean diet but instead of extra virgin olive oil they were asked to consume a total of 30 grams of mixed nuts including hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts.
  • The remaining 145 participants were asked to consume a low fat controlled diet. Participants were followed for a four year time period and researchers investigated their cognitive change over this time utilising a series of neuropsychological tests which looked at cognitive composites for memory, frontal (executive and attention function) and global cognition.



The results of this study showed that individuals who took part in the low fat control diet had a significant decrease in all aspects of cognitive function testing compared to those who took part in the Mediterranean diet with either extra virgin olive oil or nuts.

Individuals who consumed the Mediterranean diet with nuts experienced a significantly higher memory composite and individuals who consumed the alternate Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil experienced improvement in frontal and global cognition. Researchers concluded that “in an older population consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either olive oil or nuts may counteract age related cognitive decline.”


So now you are all wondering, what food groups are in a Mediterranean diet?  Let’s take a closer look! 


This diet is based around the original eating patterns of countries in the Mediterranean including Spain, Greece and Italy, hence the name “Mediterrean.” This diet is low in saturated fats (7-8%) and high in both monounsaturated fats (good fats) and dietary fibre. This diet contains large servings of olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes, a limited red meat intake, low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry and non-refined carbohydrates, a maximum of four eggs weekly, a moderate intake of dairy products (particularly cheese and yogurt) and one glass of red wine daily.

It is important to note that you should always check with your healthcare professional, before making changes to your diet to ensure that the diet is suitable for you.  

Written by Kaylee Dunbar

Kaylee has a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy and an Advanced Diploma as a Pharmacy Technician. Her passion for natural medicine first began when she worked as a pharmacy technician and saw how many people were looking for more ways to support their health. This sparked her interest in learning how to support health using complementary medicine alongside orthodox medicine. Her main objective is to inspire and educate others about the benefits of natural medicine and how to apply it to everyday life.

Although Kaylee is passionate about natural medicine she does not mind a glass of red wine every now and again!