Green Mediterranean diet slows brain aging, new study suggests

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Switching to a Green Mediterranean Diet can positively affect brain health and slow down brain aging, according to new research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The findings were part of a sub-study of the DIRECT-PLUS trial, a large-scale, long-term clinical trial involving 300 participants over 18 months.

Obesity is associated with accelerated brain aging, a process that can be measured by calculating a person’s ‘brain age’ using detailed scans.

Study Details

Prof. Galia Avidan of the Department of Psychology, Dr. Gidon Levakov, a former graduate student at the Department of Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and others studied 102 individuals who met the criteria for obesity.

Participants received brain scans at the start and end of the study, and other tests and measurements were conducted to capture obesity’s impact on other biological processes, such as liver health.


The results showed that a reduction in body weight of 1% led to participants’ brain age being almost 9 months younger than the expected brain age after 18 months.

This attenuated aging was associated with decreases in liver fat and liver enzymes, both of which have been shown to negatively affect brain health in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our study highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including lower consumption of processed food, sweets, and beverages, in maintaining brain health,” says Dr. Levakov.

The Green Mediterranean Diet

The research team was the first to introduce the concept of the green-Mediterranean, high polyphenols diet.

This diet differs from the traditional Mediterranean diet in its higher content of dietary polyphenols (phytochemicals, secondary metabolites of plant compounds that offer various health benefits) and lower content of red/processed meat.

Participants on the green-Mediterranean diet consumed 28 grams of walnuts, 3-4 cups of green tea, and 1 cup of Wolffia-globosa (Mankai) plant green shake per day over 18 months.

The aquatic plant Mankai is high in bioavailable iron, B12, 200 kinds of polyphenols and protein, making it a suitable substitute for meat.

The study findings suggest that lifestyle interventions promoting weight loss can positively impact the aging trajectory of the brain.

The researchers’ next steps will involve determining whether slowing down obesity-driven brain aging results in better clinical outcomes for patients, as well as potentially offering a strategy to evaluate the impact of lifestyle changes on brain health.

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The study was published in eLife.

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