Mediterranean Diet Linked to Healthier Brain Matter

Mediterranean-style diet associated with lower burden of white matter hyperintensity volume

TUESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet (MeDi) is linked to a reduced burden of white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV), a marker of small vessel brain damage, according to a study published in the February issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Hannah Gardener, Sc.D., from the University of Miami, and colleagues administered a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire to 966 participants (mean age, 72 years; 59.3 percent women; 64.6 percent Hispanic, 15.6 percent white, and 17.5 percent black) from the Northern Manhattan Study. The survey was scored (range, 0 to 9) to reflect increasing similarity to the MeDi pattern. Quantitative brain magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess WMHV.

The researchers found that 11.6 percent of participants scored 0 to 2 on the MeDi scale; 15.8 percent scored 3; 23.0 percent scored 4; 23.5 percent scored 5; and 26.1 percent scored 6 to 9. There was a significantly lower log WMHV for each one-point increase in the MeDi score (β = −0.04; P = 0.01). The ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat was the only component of the MeDi score that independently predicted WMHV (β = −0.20; P = 0.001).

"A MeDi was associated with a lower WMHV burden, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain," the authors write.

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