As you all know, the Mediterranean Diet has been voted the number one diet by health professionals four years in a row — and for good reason. It’s good for your heart, for your depression, for diabetes and so much more. Oh, and it allows for a cheeky glass of red wine here and there.
And now, it’s gotten even better. “How’s that possible?” We hear — imagine — you ask. Well, a study has found that those who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are more likely to stay mentally sharp later in life. Yep, the better thinking skills the headline told you about.
As for how they discovered it? Researchers looked at the thinking skills of more than 500 people, aged 79 and without dementia. They completed tests of problem-solving, thinking speed, memory, and word knowledge. More than half the group also underwent MRI’s. If you’re wondering where food comes into play, they had to answer a questionnaire about their eating habits during the previous year.
Those who most closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet had the highest cognitive function scores. This was even after accounting for childhood IQ, smoking, physical activity and other health factors. The things that made the biggest difference? Lots of leafy green vegetables, and a lower red meat intake. Time to look at those TikTok vegetable hacks.
On the other hand, those who had more processed food — a high intake of meat, fried food, tinned fruits, potatoes and sweet foods — well, as you can guess, the results weren’t exactly great. This diet was associated with less education, lower childhood IQ score, higher BMI and lower physical activity levels.
What does this mean moving forward? That it really is time to train yourself to like vegetables — try the humble sprout, a superfood — and that we really should eat less meat. Not only is it now good for your brain, but you’re also doing the planet a favour, too. If you really want to go all out, you can try a belated Veganuary?