Mediterranean Diet Expands Brain

A diet rich in fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains appears to lead to an increase in brain volume.

A diet rich in fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains appears to lead to an increase in brain volume.

In an abstract due presented April 22 at the 2015 American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington, DC, Yian Gu, PhD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, and colleagues looked at the brain sizes of 674 adults without dementia.

All had high-resolution MRI scans, and dietary data were collected.

The researchers adjusted for differences in cranial size. They charged intracranial volume, total brain volume, total gray matter volume, total white matter volume, and cortical thickness.

Linear regression models and APOE showed that subjects who dietary scores showed they consumed a Mediterran-type diet had larger total brain volume, total gray matter volume, and total white matter volume than those who did not follow a Mediterranean-style eating pattern.

Within that set of food choices, more fish intake was associated with larger total gray matter volume, and lower meat intake was associated with both larger total brain volume and total gray matter volume. Higher fish intake was also associated with higher cortical thickness.

The group concluded that “adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with larger brain volume in this elderly population," suggesting the diet could potentially prevent brain atrophy.