A new study has suggested that consuming a Mediterranean diet may help lower the risk of developing small areas of brain damage that can lead to thinking and memory problems.
Researchers found that people who strictly followed a Mediterranean diet, which includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fish and monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil, as well as a low intake of dairy products, meat and poultry, were less likely to have brain infarcts, which are small areas of dead tissue linked to impaired cognitive function.
In the study, more than 700 participants were separated into three groups based on how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. After six years, MRI brain scans were conducted, finding that 238 subjects had at least one area of brain damage.
The researchers discovered that respondents who most closely followed the diet were 36 percent less likely to have brain infarcts than were those who rarely followed the diet.
"In this study, not eating a Mediterranean-like diet had about the same effect on the brain as having high blood pressure," concluded study author Nikolaos Scarmeas of the Columbia University Medical Center.