Mediterranean Diet May Help Aging Brain Stay Healthy
Another bonus of the following the Mediterranean diet: Eating a diet rich in fish, fruits, and vegetables while avoiding meat may help keep an aging brain from shrinking, according to researchers at Columbia University.
Researchers examined the diets of 674 older adults with an average age of 80 to see if they followed the nine components of the Mediterranean diet: eating mostly vegetables, legumes, cereals, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil while drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and eating little meat or dairy.
Then examined brain scans of the participants.
Their findings, published in the journal Neurology, showed that those who followed at least five of the Mediterranean diet components had brain volumes measuring 13.11mm larger on average, compared to the brain sizes of those not following the diet – a difference equal to about five years of aging.
Further examination revealed that eating three to five ounces of fish weekly and eating less meat protected the brain the most by staving off about three to four years of aging.
While the precise reason for these dietary benefits is unknown, researchers speculate that the omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins B and D in fish show an ability to promote neuron growth and slow brain shrinkage.