In earlier studies, Scarmeas and his colleagues have shown that a Mediterranean diet could help lower the risk for Alzheimer's disease and might lengthen the life of those who have the disease. Now, he said, the new findings may help explain the reason for this -- that those who eat the healthiest have the fewest number of brain infarcts associated with cognitive decline.
Scarmeas is expected to present the findings to the American Academy of Neurology at its annual meeting in April in Toronto. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said the finding expressed in the study's abstract "gives strength to the message of the importance of plant foods, and healthy oils, to overall health."
"Boosting plant food intake can improve heart health and reduce body weight, but now it appears it may [also] aid brain health," she said.
The Oldways Preservation Trust has more about the Mediterranean diet.
SOURCES: Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D, associate professor, clinical neurology, Taub Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; Connie Diekman, R.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University in St. Louis; scheduled presentation, American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, Toronto, April 10-17, 2010
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