RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If we all ate like Mediterraneans, we'd live longer, have healthier hearts, and, according to a study being presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology meeting, have healthier brains. The study analyzed brain tissue among a wide sampling of Mediterranean diet-eating folk and found that people who followed the diet most closely saw less brain deterioration than people who were less devoted. The good news is, the diet is so varied that even if you don't like, say, fish, there are plenty of other options on the Mediterranean diet menu that you're bound to enjoy.
THE DETAILS: Researchers recruited 712 adults living in New York City and assessed how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet: lots of nuts, legumes, olives, olive oil, fish, and whole grains, a moderate intake of wine, and very little red meat or dairy products. The adults were divided into three groups based on low, medium, or high adherence. Nearly six years after the initial dietary assessment, the adults were given MRI scans, during which the researchers looked for small areas of dead brain tissue that have been linked to thinking problems. They found that those most faithful to a Mediterranean diet had a 36 percent lower chance of having areas of dead brain tissue than those least faithful to the diet. Moderate Mediterranean-dieters had a 21 percent lower chance compared to the least adherent dieters. The association was even stronger in women: The strictest followers of a Mediterranean diet were 45 percent less likely to have dead tissue than the low-adherence group.