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General Medical Questions
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Question : Is it true that the so called Mediterranean diet can make my brain healthier?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Michael Craig Miller, M.D Michael Craig Miller, M.D., is Senior Editor of Mental Health Publishing at Harvard Health Publications. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Miller is in clinical practice at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he has been on staff for more than 25 years.

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November 27, 2012
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A:

In general, this type of diet is low in saturated fat and high in fiber.

A Mediterranean diet may help your brain. Research has linked this diet to lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. The diet also may help slow the decline in what are sometimes called “normal” memory problems of aging.

If you want to follow such a diet, here is a short summary of it:

  • Make fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds about half of what you eat each day.
  • For your fat intake, mostly use olive oil, which is unsaturated.
  • Use small amounts of cheese, yogurt, poultry and eggs.
  • Eat plenty of fish.
  • Eat red meat only occasionally.
  • Drink red wine, but in small amounts with meals.

To gain the most benefit, put some physical activity into your daily routine. It doesn’t take much — three brisk walks per week is a good place to start.

We strive for many of these habits every day, but find them hard to accomplish. It’s worth it. You increase your chance of living longer and healthier. You are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer and possibly brain disease. And good health certainly makes that extra time more enjoyable!

One might say it’s a "no-brainer." Combining a healthy diet and regular physical activity boosts your chance of having good health later in life. And the earlier we adopt these habits the better. Start with tonight’s dinner!

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