Time to ditch the sausages? Pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans have better MEMORY than people who eat meat, study finds

Posted on June 29th

With the official start of summer just around the corner now, you might be looking forward to firing up the barbecue with your friends and family. But a new study may encourage you to opt for veggie burgers, halloumi, and grilled prawns instead of your usual sausages and beef burgers.

Researchers from Birkbeck University have revealed that following a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet can boost your memory.

'Adherence to a plant-based rather than a meat-based diet results in improved short-term verbal memory,' said Pinar Sengul, who led the study.

Previous studies have found various links between diet and physical and mental performance.

'A vegan diet is associated with superior cardiovascular and cerebrovascular conditions,' Ms Sengul said.

'Mediterranean diets (high fruit and vegetable content) are linked with reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improved performance on cognitive.'

In the new study, the team set out evaluate the effects of diet on memory and sleep quality.

A group of 62 adults aged 40 and above were recruited, who were either vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivores with low meat consumption, or omnivores with high meat consumption.

To assess their memory, the researchers used the California Verbal Learning Test – one of the most widely used neuropsychological tests.

Meanwhile, their sleep quality was assessed via the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index – a self-rated questionnaire.

The results revealed that diet had a significant impact on memory, but not on sleep quality.

In the California Verbal Learning Test, pescatarians performed the best, followed by vegetarians and vegans, with omnivores ranking bottom.

And in a delayed recall test, vegetarians beat pescatarians to the highest score – with omnivores whose diet had the highest levels of meat scoring the lowest.

Interestingly, women had significantly better scores than men in every diet group except vegetarian.

The researchers suggest this is likely due to the fact females are more likely to lead a plant-based diet than men.

However, the researchers did not find any clear link between diet and sleep quality.

'This pilot study has found that there is a significant effect of gender favouring females over males in overall memory and a marginally significant effect of diet on short-term memory, with plant-based diets showing superior performance to animal-based diets,' the researchers wrote in their study, published in Clinical Nutrition Open Science.

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