A new research suggests that older people should adhere on taking a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish, plus moderate amounts of wine. Not only this eating habit, often called the Mediterranean Diet, keeps the heart healthy, but also delay the mental decline as they age.
"Those who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet performed as if they were two years younger," according to researcher Christy Tangney, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Tangney presented her study during the annual Experimental Biology meeting recently.
The study was conducted by following the lifestyles of 3,790 men and women who were enrolled in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. The average age of the participants was 75, but all of them were over age 65. The subjects answered a food-frequency questionnaire, detailing which components of the diet they are and how often.
The researchers then administered several tests of mental function and combined the scores with their eating habits.
How the diet keeps the brain healthy remains a mystery, but researchers theorize that it may have something to do with how the diet preserves thinking and intellectual skills. The phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables, for instance, are thought to protect against neuron loss.