The Mediterranean diet emphasizes consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and legumes with limited intakes of dairy, meat and saturated fats. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well known from reducing heart disease and diabetes, to improving cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight control. A new study may add to the growing list of benefits to include diseases of the brain, specifically dementia (1, 2). In a study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in April, researchers followed 712 participants for approximately six years, placing them into three groups based on how closely they adhered to the Mediterranean diet. At the study’s end, each participant underwent an MRI to detect the number of infarcts, areas of the brain with obstructions in the flow of blood. Compared to those who only moderately followed the diet, participants who strictly followed the Mediterranean diet had a 36 percent decreased risk of having an infarct. Although obstructions in blood flow to the brain may not have resulted in outward symptoms, the brain scan could detect the damage from these obstructions or clots, which are known to play a role in future cognitive decline and dementia.
The Zone Diet is the evolution of the Mediterranean diet, featuring low-fat protein, lots of non-starchy, fibrous vegetables, fruit and monounsaturated fat. The difference is the Zone Diet minimizes the consumption of grains.