Following the Mediterranean diet more closely helps people to retain brain volume, new research finds.
For the research, the brains of 967 Scottish people around 70-years-of-age were scanned.
Three years later 401 returned for a second scan.
They were also asked how closely they had followed the Mediterranean diet.
The results showed that following the Mediterranean diet was linked to a lower loss in brain volume.
Dr Michelle Luciano, the study’s first author, explained:
“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.”
Unlike previous studies, though, there were no links seen for eating either fish or meat.
Other studies have suggested that higher fish consumption and lower meat consumption are better for brain health.
Dr Luciano said:
“It’s possible that other components of the Mediterranean diet are responsible for this relationship, or that it’s due to all of the components in combination.
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.
Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.”
The Mediterranean diet
Here are ten typical ingredients of the MedDiet:
- Green leafy vegetables,
- other vegetables,
- whole grains,
- olive oil
- and wine.
The MedDiet also has relatively little red meat, little dairy and uses olive oil as the largest source of fat.
The MedDiet has also repeatedly been linked to a protective effect against depression.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Luciano et al., 2016).