Researchers in the United States (U.S.) said eating processed, sugary, or fried foods was the number one habit that could lead to premature brain ageing and cognitive decline.
According to the results of their new study published in ‘Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association,’ eating foods found in the typical Western diet could actually undo the benefits of the Mediterranean diet that’s been proven to be heart and brain healthy.
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Meals based on Mediterranean diet are built around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also central to the Mediterranean Diet, as is seafood. In contrast, red meat is eaten only occasionally.
The researchers tracked over 5,000 people for 20 years and found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet that emphasises fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish while avoiding red meat, processed and fried food foods, had brains that were 5.8 years younger than the folks who strayed off the diet track.
“Participants with slower cognitive decline over the years of follow- up were those who adhered closest to the Mediterranean diet along with limiting foods that are part of the Western diet, whereas participants who ate more of the Western diet had no beneficial effect of healthy food components in slowing cognitive decline,” wrote the authors of the study.
One of the study’s top researchers Puja Agarwal, Ph.D, from Rush University Medical Center, said, “eating a diet that emphasises vegetables, fresh fruit, fish, and whole grains may positively affect a person’s health.
But when it is combined with fried foods, sweets, refined grains and red meat and processed meat, we observed that the benefits of eating the Mediterranean part of the diet seems to be diminished.”
Agarwal further added that the “more we incorporate leafy greens, berries, olive oil, and fish into our diets, the better it is for our ageing brains and bodies.”.