Eat Mediterranean Foods = Five Fewer Years of Brain Shrinkage Following a Mediterranean-like diet may be associated with losing fewer brain cells due to aging, according to a study published inåÊNeurologyå¨,åÊThe Mediterranean diet includes eating more fish and plant-based foods and less meats and dairy. The study found that people following a Mediterranean-like diet had a larger brain volume than people who did not follow a Mediterranean diet. The difference between the two groups was about the same as five years of aging. ÛÏThese results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by following a healthy diet,Û said study author Yian Gu, PhD, of Columbia University in New York, NY, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. The Mediterranean-like diet in the study includes high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish and monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil; low intake of saturated fatty acids, dairy products, meat and poultry; and mild to moderate amounts of alcohol. Eating more fish and less meat was associated with less brain shrinkage. ÛÏEating at least three to five ounces of fish weekly or eating no more than 3.5 ounces of meat daily may provide considerable protection against loss of brain cells equal to about three to four years of aging,Û Gu said. The study involved 674 people with an average age of 80 who did not have dementia. Gu noted that the study does not prove that the Mediterranean diet prevents brain shrinkage; it shows an association.