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The Mediterranean Diet and Your Brain

The Mediterranean Diet and Your Brain

The word Mediterranean is Latin for “middle of the Earth.” The Ancient Romans gave the sea this name because it was the center of the earth as they knew it. We know the sea is not the center of the world, but there are ever-more reasons for you to make the dietary habits of the region the center of your diet. You’ve probably heard the Mediterranean diet helps protect your heart and reduces your risk for cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Well, now research shows that sticking to this diet can protect your brain as well.

A study published in Neurology tracked the eating habits of 400 people around age 70 for six years. The researchers used MRIs for brain scans and found that the more closely a study participant followed a Mediterranean diet the less brain volume he or she lost over a three-year period. And previous research that followed more than 10,000 women revealed that those who followed a Mediterranean-type diet were more likely to live past age 70 without physical or mental problems than those who didn’t.

So how do you eat Mediterranean? Whether you favor Italy, Israel, Turkey or Morocco:

  • Every meal is based on fruits, vegetables and legumes, with olive oil, nuts and seeds added.
  • As a side dish, you’ll have fish and lean proteins like chicken at least twice a week; red meat’s a rarity. 
  • Use spices instead of salt.
  • Top it off: Drink red wine in moderation.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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