Mediterranean Diet Linked to Healthier Brain Matter

(HealthDay News) – Consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet (MeDi) is linked to a reduced burden of white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), a marker of small vessel brain damage, according to a study published in the February issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Hannah Gardener, ScD, from the University of Miami, and colleagues administered a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire to 966 participants (mean age, 72 years; 59.3% women; 64.6% Hispanic, 15.6% white, and 17.5% black) from the Northern Manhattan Study. The survey was scored (range, 0–9) to reflect increasing similarity to the MeDi pattern. Quantitative brain magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess WMHV.

The researchers found that 11.6% of participants scored 0–2 on the MeDi scale; 15.8% scored 3; 23% scored 4; 23.5% scored 5; and 26.1% scored 6–9. There was a significantly lower log WMHV for each one-point increase in the MeDi score (β=−0.04; P=0.01). The ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat was the only component of the MeDi score that independently predicted WMHV (β=−0.2; P=0.001).

“A MeDi was associated with a lower WMHV burden, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain,” the authors write.

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