School of Medical and Health Sciences
The Mediterranean diet has demonstrated efficacy for improving cardiovascular and cognitive health. However, a traditional Mediterranean diet delivers fewer serves of dairy and less dietary calcium than is currently recommended in Australia, which may limit long-term sustainability. The present study aims to evaluate whether a Mediterranean diet with adequate dairy and calcium can improve cardiovascular and cognitive function in an at-risk population, and thereby reduce risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cognitive decline. A randomised, controlled, parallel, crossover design trial will compare a Mediterranean diet supplemented with dairy foods against a low-fat control diet. Forty participants with systolic blood pressure above 120 mmHg and at least two other risk factors of CVD will undertake each dietary intervention for eight weeks, with an eight-week washout period between interventions. Systolic blood pressure will be the primary measure of interest. Secondary outcomes will include measures of cardiometabolic health, dietary compliance, cognitive function, assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), psychological well-being and dementia risk. This research will provide empirical evidence as to whether the Mediterranean diet can be modified to provide recommended dairy and calcium intakes while continuing to deliver positive effects for cardiovascular and cognitive health. The findings will hold relevance for the field of preventative healthcare and may contribute to revisions of national dietary guidelines.
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