Harvard Men's Health Watch

Diets for aging brains

Following either of two popular heart-healthy styles of eating—the Mediterranean and DASH diets—could help preserve memory and other core mental skills, according to results of a long-term aging study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers followed residents of Cache County, Utah—all age 65 and older—for 11 years. The study measured how closely the participants' daily diets conformed to either the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan or Mediterranean-style eating. Both diets include generous amounts of fruit and vegetables, healthy vegetable oils, and moderate amounts of meat and dairy.

The closer people conformed to DASH or Mediterranean eating, the higher they scored on a standard test of memory, language, movement, and other basic mental skills affected by aging. The rise in scores was small but consistently positive. It adds to previous research showing that healthy eating can contribute to successful brain aging.

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