Mediterranean diet, micronutrients and macronutrients, and MRI measures of cortical thickness

Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Feb;13(2):168-177. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2016.06.2359. Epub 2016 Jul 25.


Introduction: The Mediterranean diet (MeDi) is associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment, but it is unclear whether it is associated with better brain imaging biomarkers.

Methods: Among 672 cognitively normal participants (mean age, 79.8 years, 52.5% men), we investigated associations of MeDi score and MeDi components with magnetic resonance imaging measures of cortical thickness for the four lobes separately and averaged (average lobar).

Results: Higher MeDi score was associated with larger frontal, parietal, occipital, and average lobar cortical thickness. Higher legume and fish intakes were associated with larger cortical thickness: legumes with larger superior parietal, inferior parietal, precuneus, parietal, occipital, lingual, and fish with larger precuneus, superior parietal, posterior cingulate, parietal, and inferior parietal. Higher carbohydrate and sugar intakes were associated with lower entorhinal cortical thickness.

Discussion: In this sample of elderly persons, higher adherence to MeDi was associated with larger cortical thickness. These cross-sectional findings require validation in prospective studies.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cortical thickness; Cross-sectional studies; Diet; Fish; Fruit; Legumes; Macronutrients; Magnetic resonance imaging; Nutrition; Structural brain changes; Sugar; Vitamins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Micronutrients*
  • Organ Size


  • Micronutrients