Diet to boost brain health: The food YOU should be eating to improve brain function

Inspired by findings from the Mediterranean diet experts have pinpointed some of the foods which are linked to greater intelligence and how they boost the brain’s ability to function.

Researchers have found monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) - a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados are linked to general intelligence.

Olive oil is one of the key components of a Mediterranean diet and experts have recently found chemicals in avocados could help repair the heart.

Experts have previously found a diet high in MUFAs could help suppress rheumatoid arthritis.

Aron Barbey, study lead author said their goals to understand how nutrition could be used to boost cognitive performance.

He said the aim of the study was to look at how nutrition could influence the functional organisation of the human brain.

Experts said if it is fully understood how the nutrients influence brain function, the findings could lead to the develop of nutritional interventions which could boost cognitive performance.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have analysed 99 adults, and compared the patterns of fatty acids found in their blood.

They also looked at MRI scans of the brain and results of an intelligence test.

Results revealed fatty acids in the body are grouped into two patterns, saturated fatty acids and MUFAs.

The scientists found evidence that MUFAs are related to a specific brain network called the dorsal attention network.

This part of the brain plays a key role in everyday problem solving and attention-demanding tasks.

"In this study, we examined the relationship between groups of fatty acids and brain networks that underlie general intelligence,” said Marta Zamroziewicz, lead author of the study from the neuroscience program at Illinois and lead author of the study.

“In doing so, we sought to understand if brain network organisation mediated the relationship between fatty acids and general intelligence.”

The study was published in the journal NeuroImage.

Studies have previously found those who regularly eat plenty of fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts but consume little dairy or red meat have a much slower rate of memory loss.

Roy Hardman, from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study revealing the link between the Mediterranean diet and cognition.

He said: “There is encouraging evidence a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with improving cognition, slowing cognitive decline or reducing the conversion to Alzheimer’s.”

This comes after experts found the Mediterranean diet was key to staying healthy.