According to researchers people who eat a Mediterranean diet are 24 per cent less likely to see a decline in memory and thinking.
Experts in Canada have for the last five years monitored the eating habits of 27,860 men and women across 40 countries.
They have found that those who eat a Mediterranean-style diet, consisting of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, olives, extra virgin olive oil and fish, rarely saw a decline in memory.
Professor Andrew Smyth, of McMaster University in Canada and the study’s author, said: ‘Adoption of a healthy diet probably begins early in life, and a healthy diet might also go along with adoption of other healthy behaviours.’
Participants were asked about the overall servings they consumed of different types of foods in both the healthy and unhealthy categories for which they received a corresponding point score.
They were tested for their thinking and memory skills, at the start of the study, then again after two and five years.
The findings showed that people with the healthiest diets were 24 per cent less likely to experience cognitive decline compared to those with the least healthy diets.
Health experts advise that eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy weight, which is an important part of overall good health.
Being classed as overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Research published this week revealed that nearly a quarter of British children under the age of five are overweight or obese.
The European study, presented at a European Congress on Obesity in Prague, found the UK has the second highest proportion of overweight children out of the 28 countries that were able to provide data.
With 23 per cent of youngsters in the age group classed as overweight or obese, the UK was second only to Ireland at 27.5 per cent.
People are classified overweight if they have a BMI of 25 and higher, and obese from a BMI of 30.