Eating fish and veggies – the staples of the diet of the healthy and long-lived people living near the Mediterranean Sea – is now linked to slower decline in brain function as well as heart health.
A long-term study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested thousands of Chicago residents 65 and older, starting back in 1993. The study looked at the mental acuity, as it followed the seniors based on their adherence to a diet recognized as the “Mediterranean diet”: fish, vegetables, olive oil, and moderate amounts of wine.
Those who scores for adhering to the diet where higher were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, even after controlling for smoking, education, obesity, hypertension and other factors. The study’s author said that the conclusions of the study showed a large difference in those who stuck to the diet.
The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized for its healthful qualities: It’s is the basis of recommendations by experts for a heart-healthy eating plan as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the key components of the diet are:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends.