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Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Nov 8:1-13. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2018.1543148. [Epub ahead of print]

A Mediterranean diet supplemented with dairy foods improves mood and processing speed in an Australian sample: results from the MedDairy randomized controlled trial.

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a Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity, School of Health Sciences , University of South Australia , GPO Box 2471, Adelaide 5001 , South Australia.
b School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences , University of South Australia , GPO Box 2471, Adelaide 5001 , South Australia.
c School of Medical and Health Sciences , Edith Cowan University , Perth , Western Australia.
d Medical School , University of Western Australia , Perth.
e Flinders Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics , Flinders University , GPO Box 2100 Adelaide 5001 , South Australia.
f Cognitive Ageing and Impairment Neurosciences, School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy , University of South Australian , GPO Box 2471, Adelaide , SA 5001 , Australia.



The Mediterranean diet has been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia. However, a traditional Mediterranean diet may not meet calcium requirements for older non-Mediterranean populations, which could limit long-term sustainability in Western countries. The current study therefore aimed to determine the cognitive and psychological effects of a Mediterranean diet with adequate calcium for an ageing Australian population.


A randomized controlled cross-over design trial compared a Mediterranean diet with 3-4 daily serves of dairy food (MedDairy) with a low-fat (LF) control diet. Forty-one participants aged ≥45 years with systolic blood pressure ≥120 mm Hg and at least two other risk factors for cardiovascular disease completed each dietary intervention for 8 weeks, with an 8-week washout period separating interventions. Attention, processing speed, memory and planning were assessed at the start and end of each intervention using the Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery. Mood and health-related quality of life were evaluated using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). Dementia risk was also measured using the Framingham Vascular Risk and CAIDE scores.


Significant improvements were observed for processing speed (P = .04), Total Mood Disturbance (P = .01), Tension (P = .03), Depression (P = .03), Anger (P = .02), and Confusion (P = .004) following the MedDairy intervention. No significant effects were found for attention, memory and planning, or measures of dementia risk.


Our study provides evidence that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with dairy foods may benefit cognitive function and psychological well-being in an ageing population at risk of dementia.


Ageing; Calcium; Cognition; Mediterranean diet; Mental health; dairy

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