Eating a Mediterranean diet—and cutting back on red meat and processed food—could protect you from dementia and general cognitive decline as you get older.
The diet is high in polyphenols, plant-based molecules that researchers believe can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University have tested various diets—including two types of Mediterranean diets—on a group of 284 people, whose brains were measured 18 months later by MRI scans.
The researchers were shocked by the extent of shrinkage in the brains of the over-50s who were eating a standard ‘healthy’ diet. But there was hardly any shrinkage in either of the groups eating a Mediterranean diet: one was eating walnuts with the diet and the other was also drinking five cups of green tea a day and replacing the evening meal with a green shake drink.
Polyphenols are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, and so can reduce neuroinflammation and encourage new cell growth in the brain, and especially in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory.
(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2022; doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac001)