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01 March 2012

Mediterranean diet protects the brain

Researchers discover the protective effect of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables plus fish on the brain

US researchers publishing in the Archives of Neurology have shown, in a large study of 966 people, that the more closely people followed a Mediterranean diet, the less MRI evidence they showed of damage to small vessels in the brain.

The Mediterranean diet describes a relatively high intake of fruit, vegetables, monounsaturated fat, fish, whole grains, legumes, and nuts; moderate alcohol consumption; and a low intake of red meat, saturated fat, and refined grains.

It is in essence very similar to the OMS diet, although not as rigorous for most people who follow it. White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are lesions seen in the brain that indicate small vessel disease, and commonly accompany ageing, dementia, vascular disease and stroke. In this study, the researchers graded how closely people stuck to the Mediterranean diet; those sticking more closely to the diet had significantly fewer WMHs.

Given the close association between MS and cardiovascular disease and the likelihood that MS involves disease of the small vessels of the brain in a similar way to cardiovascular disease, these results are important for people with MS and of significance for anybody wishing to optimally protect their brain tissue.

The study adds further weight to the benefits of a plant-based wholefood diet plus seafood. 

You can read the full study here