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Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Risk of Several Age-Related Brain Problems

As we age, our brain becomes more susceptible to certain conditions, but there are steps that can be taken to help protect the brain. A new analysis suggests that following the increasingly popular Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline, depression, and stroke.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits of people in the Mediterranean region of the world. It consists of a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Additionally, this diet has a very limited amount of refined grains, saturated fats, and sugars.

The researchers examined 22 studies that examined the link between the Mediterranean diet and various conditions. 11 of them examined the Mediterranean diet and stroke, nine looked at depression, eight examined cognitive impairment, and one looked at Parkinson’s disease.

After examining the data, the researchers determined that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of depression, cognitive impairment and stroke. Moderate adherence to the Mediterranean diet provided reduced risk for depression and cognitive impairment, but little to no reduction in risk for stroke.

Researchers from the University Of Athens School Of Medicine conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 30, 2013 in Annals of Neurology.

Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet may improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes, asthma, lower rates of obesity and even decrease the overall risk of mortality.

The key components of the Mediterranean diet are eating primarily plant-based foods, replacing butter with olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt, eating red meat no more than a few times a month, eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

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