Eating a Mediterranean diet will reduce age-related brain shrinkage by half.
The Mediterranean diet has been hailed one of the healthiest diets in the world because of its range of health-inducing foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, plenty of olive oil, small amounts of red meat and a large quantity of fish and red wine.
Now new research has backed this up further revealing the wonderful benefits this diet has on an aging brain.
The research team from Edinburgh University gathered 562 participants in their 70s and separated them into two groups – one group followed an approximate traditional Mediterranean diet while the other group followed a diet containing less foods associated with the Mediterranean.
The team found, over a period of 3 years, that the group who were on the Med-diet had half the amount of brain shrinkage than the other group and that was without strictly following the diet extensively. All participants were born in 1936 and took part in the study between the ages of 73 and 76.
“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory. This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health … and may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain,” explained lead author of the study, Dr. Michelle Luciano.
This findings back up the health claims that the Med-diet provides which is reducing heart attacks and strokes as well as improving conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels and even prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It is not clear how the Med-diet actually improves health conditions or prevent them but recent studies are looking into the connection between improved vascular health and brain aging or whether it’s more connected with preserved brain volume. Either way, eating a more Mediterranean-style diet is recommended for better health as cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra points out.
“The key components of a Mediterranean diet are lots of vegetables, olive oil, oily fish and nuts, with no calorie restrictions. Combine that with cutting down on sugar, which was traditionally a rarity in the region, and you’ve got the base of the Mediterranean diet right. And if you get the base right you can eat a little of whatever else you like.”
Details of the study were published in the journal Neurology.