Better Diet Quality Associated With Larger Brain Volume

Relationship seen with gray matter, white matter, and hippocampal volumes
Relationship seen with gray matter, white matter, and hippocampal volumes

HealthDay News — Better diet quality, including high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, dairy, nuts, and fish, is associated with larger brain volume, according to a study published online May 16 in Neurology.

Pauline H. Croll, from the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues assessed the relationship of diet quality with structural brain tissue volumes and focal vascular lesions using magnetic resonance imaging scans from 4,447 participants in the Rotterdam Study (2005 to 2015). They excluded participants with an implausible energy intake, prevalent dementia, or cortical infarcts, leaving 4,213 individuals for analysis. 

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The researchers found that better diet quality was related to larger brain volume, gray matter volume, white matter volume, and hippocampal volume. There was no association between diet quality and white matter lesion volume, lacunes, or microbleeds. Specifically, larger brain volume was associated with high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, dairy, and fish, and low intake of sugar-containing beverages.

"These results suggest that the effect of nutrition on neurodegeneration may act via brain structure," the authors write. "More research, in particular longitudinal research, is needed to unravel direct versus indirect effects between diet quality and brain health."

One author disclosed financial ties to Nestle and Metagenics.

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