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Healthy Fats and the Mediterranean Diet Good for the Brain

Feb. 14, 2012
Elena Paravantes

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Your brain is telling you to eat more olive oil.

Numerous stud­ies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can pro­tect the heart, reduce the risk of can­cer and even con­trol dia­betes, now it appears that it can also pro­tect brain health.

According to a new study pub­lished in the cur­rent issue of Archives of Neurology, a Mediterranean diet can reduce small blood ves­sel dam­age in the brain.

Researchers report that a Mediterranean-style diet is asso­ci­ated with a reduced bur­den of white mat­ter hyper­in­te­sity vol­ume (WMHV). White mat­ter hyper­in­ten­si­ties (WMHs) that are vis­i­ble on mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing (MRI) are mark­ers of chronic small ves­sel dam­age and can pre­dict an increased risk of stroke and demen­tia.

Hannah Gardener, Sc.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and col­leagues eval­u­ated data from 966 par­tic­i­pants in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) a research study of stroke and stroke risk fac­tors in the Northern Manhattan com­mu­nity. They were given a ques­tion­naire to assess their diet dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year, and com­pli­ance with the Mediterranean diet. They under­went a brain MRI to mea­sure WMHV.

Participants who fol­lowed the Mediterranean diet more closely, had a lower bur­den of WMHV and this was inde­pen­dent of sociode­mo­graphic and vas­cu­lar risk fac­tors includ­ing phys­i­cal activ­ity, smok­ing, blood lipid lev­els, hyper­ten­sion, dia­betes, his­tory of heart dis­ease and BMI.

The researchers reported these results may be dri­ven by the favor­able ratio of monoun­sat­u­rated fat con­sump­tion over sat­u­rated fat. In other words a higher intake of monoun­sat­u­rated fat, the type of fat that is found in olive oil, appears to be a fac­tor in the pro­tec­tion of small ves­sel dam­age. However, the authors added that the results of the analy­sis sug­gest that the over­all dietary pat­tern, rather than any of the indi­vid­ual com­po­nents, may be more impor­tant.


  • Archives of Neurology

  • [source link=“http://www.columbianomas.org/study.html”>

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