New Evidence: Mediterranean Diet Boosts Brain Health in Elderly

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Better brain measurements were associated with Mediterranean-style eating.
Better brain measurements were associated with Mediterranean-style eating.

HealthDay News -- The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet may also help preserve brain health in older adults, according to research published in Neurology.

Michelle Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues collected dietary information from 967 participants, aged 73 to 76 years and free of dementia. More than half (562 participants) underwent magnetic resonance imaging at age 73 to measure overall volume, gray matter, and cortical thickness. Three years later, 401 study participants returned for follow-up measurements.

After accounting for other factors that might affect brain volume -- such as education level, diabetes, hypertension, or age -- better brain measurements were associated with Mediterranean-style eating, the study authors said. "In our study, age had the largest effect on brain volume loss," Dr Luciano told HealthDay. However, "the effect of the Mediterranean diet was half the size of that due to normal aging."

Dr Luciano said she found no association from fish or meat intake on preserving brain volume. That suggests it may be other components or the overall Mediterranean diet that provides the benefit. The combination of foods may protect against factors such as inflammation and vascular disease, which can cause loss of brain volume, she added.

Reference

Luciano M, Corley J, Cox SR, et al. Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort [published online January 4, 2017]. Neurology. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000003559.

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