New York: Eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, chicken and salad dressing and avoiding saturated fats, meat and dairy foods may be linked to preserving memory and thinking abilities, the largest study to date has found.

However, the same association was not found in people with diabetes.

For the study, dietary information from 17,478 African-American and Caucasian people with an average age of 64 was reviewed to see how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean diet. They were also given tests that measured memory and thinking abilities over an average of four years. A total of 17 percent of the participants had diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet was not associated with a lower risk of thinking and memory problems in people with diabetes.

"Diet is an important modifiable activity that could help in preserving cognitive functioning in late life," said Tsivgoulis.

"However, it is only one of several important lifestyle activities that might play a role in later-life mental functioning. Exercising, avoiding obesity, not smoking cigarettes and taking medications for conditions like diabetes and hypertension are also important," the researcher noted.

The research has been published in the latest print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

(Agencies)

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