A diet filled with veggies, fruits, whole grains, olive oil,beans, nuts, and fish is brain protective and may reduce the type of plaques and tangles in your brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers who published their work in the journal, Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The MIND and Mediterranean diets both emphasize vegetables, fruits and three or more servings of fish per week, along with rich green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach, and collard greens. Add in berries and a small glass of wine, and you’ve got a brain protective diet, says study author Puja Agarwal, PhD, of RUSH University in Chicago.
“Improvement in people’s diets in just one area—such as eating more than six servings of green leafy vegetables per week, or not eating fried foods—was similar to being about four years younger,” said Agarwal. “While our research doesn’t prove that a healthy diet resulted in fewer brain deposits of amyloid plaques, we know there is a relationship and following the MIND and Mediterranean diets may be one way that people can improve their brain health and protect cognition as they age.”
The study involved 581 people with an average age of 84 at the time of diet assessment who agreed to donate their brains at death to advance research on dementia. Participants completed annual questionnaires asking how much they ate of food items in various categories.
When looking at foods in their diets on type at a time, researchers found that people who ate the highest amounts of green leafy vegetables, or seven or more servings per week, had plaque deposits in their brains corresponding to being almost 19 years younger than people who ate the fewest, with one or fewer servings per week.
“Our finding that eating more green leafy vegetables is in itself associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain is intriguing enough for people to consider adding more of these vegetables to their diet,” said Agarwal. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.