There’s no way around it — our brains shrink as we get older, causing memory loss and impaired mental sharpness. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help ward off signs of an aging brain. Enter the Mediterranean diet — a diet consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the healthiest diets.
Researchers found more evidence that the Mediterranean diet — consisting mostly of fresh veggies, fruits, olive oil, healthy grains, fish and lean proteins — could help preserve your brain into old age.
“There is an increasing amount of evidence to indicate that eating a healthy diet that’s rich in oily fish, fresh veg and nuts is good for your brain and can help to maintain your memory as you get older,” Dr. Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, followed a group of 401 people in Edinburgh, Scotland who were 70 years old. All the volunteers were healthy and living independently. The scientists analyzed their dietary information and then scanned their brains at age 73 and then again at 76, measuring brain volume and thickness of the cerebral cortex.
They found that those who ate more fruits, vegetables and olive oil and less fried food and red meat — i.e. the Mediterranean diet — had less brain shrinkage. In fact, on average, their brains shrank at about half the rate that it typical for people their age over the course of three years.
“In our study, eating habits were measured before brain volume was, which suggests that the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain,” Michelle Luciano of the University of Edinburgh and co-author said in a statement. “Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.”
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