Mediterranean Diet is Good for the Brain

February 14, 2012

2 Min Read
Mediterranean Diet is Good for the Brain

MIAMI.White matter hyperintensity volume, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, can me mitigated through consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet, according to a study led by Miller School of Medicine researchers. Previous studies have shown that high amounts of WMHV in the brain can predict a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

Although diet may be an important predictor of vascular disease, little is known about the possible association between dietary habits and WMHs," said Clinton Wright, M.D., M.S, the reports senior author who is associate professor of neurology and scientific director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the Miller School. Studies have suggested that consumption of a MeDi (Mediterranean Diet) is associated with a reduced risk of the metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, stroke and cognitive disorders, but no studies to date, to our knowledge, have found an association between a MeDi and WMH volume (WMHV)."

The study, published in the February issue of Archives of Neurology, evaluated data from 966 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study to examine the association between a MeDi and WMHV. Participants were given a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary patterns during the previous year, and answers were used to determine a MeDi compliance score. The WMHV was measured by quantitative brain MRI

According to the study authors, results suggest a lower burden of WMHV among participants with a greater consumption of a MeDi. This association was independent of sociodemographic and vascular risk factors, including physical activity, smoking, blood lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes, history of cardiac disease and BMI. Additionally, after adjustment, the only component of the MeDi score that was independently associated with WMHV was the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat.

In summary, the current study suggests a possible protective association between increased consumption of a MeDi and small vessel damage," Wright said. The associations with WMHV may be driven by the favorable ratio of monounsaturated fat consumption over saturated fat. However, the results of the analysis of the individual MeDi scale components suggest that the overall dietary pattern, rather than any of the individual components, may be more etiologically relevant in relation to WMHV."

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