Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at New York's Columbia University, has announced his current research shows the elderly are less likely to suffer strokes or brain damage while adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet.

Past studies have also concluded that a Mediterranean-style diet also diminishes depression, cancer, heart disease and premature death risks.

A key to maintaining a Mediterranean-style diet is the production and quality of the food. Fast is not better - for example, bread should be fresh, long rising, low yeast. Balance is essential, here is a breakdown of what to eat and how often for the next time you are preparing a meal or shopping list:

Daily (majority of diet): extra-virgin olive oil originating from the Mediterranean; rice, avoid instant but other than that most grains work (long, medium and short grains, basmati, patna, and aborio); pasta from Italy; grains (couscous, bulgur); fresh, local and unprocessed vegetables and fruits; aromatic herbs and spices and plenty of water.

Daily in low moderation: legumes (chickpeas, lentils); beans, white cheese, yogurt, eggs, nuts, honey and wine (optional).

Weekly in moderation: lean meat, poultry, fish, pastries, bitter chocolate, clarified butter, cheese, milk, and sausage.

Monthly (2-3 times a month): Sweets, red meat

Scarmeas's research is to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Meeting in April in Toronto, Canada.

Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization’s Mediterranean food pyramid:’s food pyramid: