home
RSS
Mediterranean diet is brain food
May 21st, 2013
10:47 AM ET

Mediterranean diet is brain food

Sticking to a Mediterranean diet may not just be good for your heart, it may be good for your brain as well, according to a new study.

Researchers in Spain followed more than 1,000 people for six and a half years, and found that participants who were on a Mediterranean diet and supplemented that diet with extra nuts or olive oil performed better on cognitive tests at the end of the study period than the control group, which followed a lower-fat diet. The study was published Monday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

"We found that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil was able to reduce low-grade inflammation associated with a high risk of vascular disease and cognitive impairments," said Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the chairman of preventive medicine at the University of Navarra in Spain and a study author.

The Mediterranean diet is devoid of processed foods and bad fats, and high in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and even red wine - all things that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These types of foods are known to help reduce vascular (circulatory) damage, inflammation and oxidative (free radical) damage in the brain.

But there are limitations to the study.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a well-known proponent of a very low-fat, largely plant-based diet says while the Mediterranean diet is good, it's unfair to compare it to a "low fat diet" in this particular study.

"It's erroneous to say (the Mediterranean diet in this study is) better than a low fat diet, when in fact they weren't following a low-fat diet," said Ornish. "If they said the Mediterranean diet improves cognition compared to standard American diet or standard Spanish diet, I would agree, but clearly, a 37% fat diet is not a low-fat diet."

Ornish, who recommends a diet that includes only 10% fat says in his studies, says he has seen similar effects - improved cognition, improved heart health and reduced depression.

"Good shouldn't be confused with optimal," when referring to the Mediterranean diet, he says.

Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician-nutrition specialist, says the study findings are encouraging.

"The Mediterranean diet is high in antioxidants, it's anti-inflammatory, and it has a lot of vascular protective elements, so I don't think this is a stretch," said Jampolis. "In a high-risk vascular population, this could be beneficial, and it's worth evaluating further."

But she cautions that the Mediterranean diet should be stacked up against the typical American diet to get a true picture of how much it helps cognition.

While Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez agrees that the study isn't perfect, he says there is clear evidence that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial.

"The quantity of the difference between the groups was small from a clinical point of view, but it was statistically significant," he said. "The harmony, the combination of all of the micronutrients, when they are combined in traditional Mediterranean cuisine, is very important for the functioning of the central nervous system."

And he added that this is not only a healthy diet, it's a sustainable diet.

"The Mediterranean people enjoy this kind of diet every day," he said. "It is pleasant, it is healthy, it is sustainable, and it is not very expensive."


soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Raymon Herendeen

    There are some fascinating closing dates on this article however I don�t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There's some validity however I'll take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

    August 8, 2013 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Maribeth Silberberg

    It�s exhausting to seek out educated individuals on this matter, however you sound like you understand what you�re speaking about! Thanks

    August 10, 2013 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Tyler Lagrasse

    This web site can be a stroll-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn�t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and also you�ll definitely uncover it.

    August 14, 2013 at 03:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. TN

    I feel as though the Mediterranean diet improves cognitive health most likely due to its richness in nuts. A lot of nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve cognitive health. Not only does it benefit the brain, but according to the Natural Standard it can also decrease mortality: http://blog.naturalstandard.com.ezproxy.mcphs.edu/natural_standard_blog/2013/07/eating-more-nuts-may-reduce-risk-of-death.html

    August 23, 2013 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Moncler Piumino Pop Star

    authentic reebok nfl jerseys cheap are very appealing and durable bonnet et 锟斤拷charpe moncler. moncler himalaya prix are suitable infant latest in fashion large louis vuitton handbags outlet authentic. louis vuitton laptop bag purses are recognized for their improvement and designs louis vuittons outlet. official louis vuitton website handbags which is well known in regards to its unique style botte femme xxl. promo bottes trial are a a lot of fun game vente en ligne bottes cuir.
    Moncler Piumino Pop Star http://progeka.com/moncler-pas-cher-femme-replica-moncler-t-shirt-moncler-pas-cher/

    September 22, 2013 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. aerotaxifels

    It's fascinating what you bring I really like the information thank you very much.
    A greeting. http://encastelldefels.wordpress.com/

    January 21, 2014 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Asirevanef

    Дизайн интерьера онлайн.
    летний дизайн комнаты
    Стоимость дизайн проекта Сычевка
    Дизайн проект дома Спас-Деменск

    Дизайн проект зала Любань
    дизайн проект квартиры Починок
    Дизайн проект спальни Нолинск
    современный дизайн потолков

    July 19, 2014 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mike

    The financial situation you describe was created largely by banks like Goldman-Sachs, NOT the inhabitants themselves. Also, nothing you say changes the fact that the areas you describe are the cradles of civilization and even our political system.

    May 22, 2013 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Phil

    Most cheese rolls are illiterate fools.

    May 22, 2013 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Daenerys

    Cheeseroll, you are complete idiot. We wouldn't have philosophy or democracy without the Greeks (ever heard of Plato or Aristotle?), we wouldn't have the Renaissance period and the greatest works of art without the Italians (ever heard of Michaelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci? You sound like those names are really foreign to you). Even the "Arabs" who you so readily dismiss had a forward thinking culture, a far more advanced culture than that of the Western world, before they got eaten up by religion. An extreme use of religion does that to anyone, this country would go down the drain as well if you let the conservative Christians have real control of the country. Anyhow, you should educate yourself a bit, perhaps you do need to consume more grains, nuts, avocado and olive oil. Your brain will thank you.

    May 22, 2013 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.