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Mediterranean Diet and Brain Health Linked, New Study Suggests

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By    |   Thursday, 22 Oct 2015 11:46 AM

A Mediterranean diet could benefit the brain as we get older, helping to offset shrinkage in later years, according to a new study published in the science journal Neurology this week.

The study examined nearly 700 people in New York City across racial lines and asked detailed questions about diets over a seven-month period, according to Forbes. Researchers also scanned their brains via an MRI.

The research found that participants who stuck to a Mediterranean diet had greater brain volume than those who did not eat it as much.

"Among older adults, [a Mediterranean-type diet] adherence was associated with less brain atrophy, with an effect similar to five years of aging," the study's conclusion reads. "Higher fish and lower meat intake might be the two key food elements that contribute to the benefits of MeDi on brain structure."

Mediterranean diets are defined by a high concentrations of vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals/grains, fish, and healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil while cutting down on unhealthy fats like saturated fats, dairy, meat, and poultry.

"In general, people's brains tend to shrink with age and this can be associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease," Yian Gu, an epidemiologist at Columbia University and the lead author of the paper, told the Los Angeles Times.

"Our study found that the more you adhere to the Mediterranean diet, the more protection you get for your brain," Gu continued.

Gu said that, while the study showed a solid connection between a Mediterranean diet and brain health, it stopped short of fully endorsing the diet. Gu suggested that a longitudinal study should be conducted in which researchers followed participants over a longer period of time.

"We don't know why the brain atrophies in older age, but if we can find some factors that are not genetic, that people can change in their own lives to protect themselves and prevent disease, that would be a very important message," Gu said.

The study was just the latest good news about a Mediterranean diet. A study earlier this year by the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that people who eat a Mediterranean diet with nuts or olive oil perform better on various cognitive tasks than those who eat a low-fat diet.

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A Mediterranean diet could benefit the brain as we get older, helping to offset shrinkage in later years, according to a new study published in the science journal Neurology this week.
mediterranean, diet, brain, shrinkage, study
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2015-46-22
Thursday, 22 Oct 2015 11:46 AM
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