Eating a Mediterranean diet has long been thought to have health benefits. And now new research suggests that it is now just good for the body, but for the brain as well.

New research, publishing in the repected Neurology journal has revealed that elderly people who ate a Mediterranean diet lost less brain volume over a three year timeframe that those who ate at usual. A Mediterranean diet includes consuming lots of fruit and veg, as well as olive oil, beans, pulses and grains as well as a moderate quantity of fish, dariy products and wine, and small amounts of meat.

Research author Dr Michelle Luciano from Edinburgh University explained that as we get older, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells. This can have an impact on brain function and memory. The latest study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that eating a Mediterranean diet has a good effect on the health of the brain.

Brain volume

Scientists looked at diets of nearly 1,000 people in Scotland, who were aged 70. Out of those, just over half had an MRI scan when they reached 73 to examine brain volume and how think the outer layer of the brain was. Most then went back for a second scan three years later.

There was a difference in total brain volume between those who had stuck to a Mediterranean diet and those who had not. It is often said that eating fish is good for the brain, but the authors say that it could be other aspects of a Mediterranean diet which have the positive impact.

While further research may be needed, this latest study could potentially have important implications for the prevention of such conditions as dementia. The National Health Service already points out that the Mediterranean diet is similar to the advice health officials give for healthy eating.