Mediterranean diet 'helps keep the mind sharp'

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Washington, Feb 9 (ANI): Mediterranean diet, which includes a high intake of veggies, whole grains, and fish, a low intake of saturated fat and meat and moderate alcohol use, can help people avoid the small areas of brain damage that can lead to problems with thinking and memory, says a new study.

The research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.

To reach the conclusion, researchers assessed the diets of 712 people in New York and divided them into three groups based on how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. Then they conducted MRI brain scans of the people an average of six years later. A total of 238 people had at least one area of brain damage.

Those who were most closely following a Mediterranean-like diet were 36 percent less likely to have areas of brain damage than those who were least following the diet. Those moderately following the diet were 21 percent less likely to have brain damage than the lowest group.

"The relationship between this type of brain damage and the Mediterranean diet was comparable with that of high blood pressure," said study author Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MSc, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "In this study, not eating a Mediterranean-like diet had about the same effect on the brain as having high blood pressure." (ANI)

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