People who follow a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish may have healthier brains in old age, says a new study.
Researchers studied the brains of 674 people with an average age of 80. The study participants were asked to fill food surveys about their eating habits in the last year. The researchers examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains.
The study found that people who followed the Mediterranean diet had larger total brain volume, as well as more gray and white matter, compared to people who did not regularly follow Mediterranean diet.
"These results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by following a healthy diet," study author Yian Gu, of Columbia University in New York, said in a statement.
A higher consumption of fish and lower intake of meat, one aspect of a Mediterranean diet, was tied to larger total gray matter volume on the brain scans.
The current study builds on other evidence that the diet is likely the way to go. Many studies have also shown that Mediterranean diet helps manage weight, lower risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The study is published in the Journal of Neurology.