Green Mediterranean diet may help protect against brain atrophy

March 25, 2022 – A “green” form of the Mediterranean diet may be protective against age-related brain atrophy, according to a recent study co-authored by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

During an 18-month clinical trial, the researchers followed 294 middle-aged, mostly male adults with abdominal obesity. They were divided into three groups with different dietary regimens: standard nutritional counseling, a Mediterranean diet, and a green Mediterranean diet, which includes daily consumption of green tea, walnuts, and an aquatic plant called Mankai—all of which contain beneficial compounds known as polyphenols.

Those on the green Mediterranean diet had the greatest reduction in brain atrophy over the study period compared to other participants. In addition, people on both types of Mediterranean diets had significantly reduced shrinkage of the hippocampus compared to those on the standard healthy diet.

The study was published January 11, 2022 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Senior author was Iris Shai, adjunct professor of nutrition at Harvard Chan School.

Findings from previous studies co-authored by Shai suggested that the green Mediterranean diet could aid weight loss, provide cardiometabolic benefits, and reduce fatty-liver disease.

A March 22, 2022 Medical News Today article on the studies noted that Mankai is expensive and hard to come by in stores. Shai said that the plant was used a test case to study polyphenols and that other plants could be as effective.

According to experts quoted in the article, plants that offer some of the benefits of Mankai include berries, flax, hemp, chia, and quinoa.

Read the MedicalNewsToday article: Green Mediterranean diet could be a ‘win-win’ for health and the planet