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(VI) (DM) Mediterranean diet, olive oil, and nuts improve brain health, memory, and thinking ability / International Mediterranean Diet Month 2015: Everything You Need To Know About This Sea Of Flavor, Health



Mediterranean diet, olive oil, and nuts improve brain health, memory, and thinking ability

Monday, May 25, 2015
By Amy Goodrich

(NaturalNews) The Mediterranean diet has long been researched and touted for its many benefits. High in nutrients and antioxidants, several studies have linked this type of diet to a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and dementia.

According to a new clinical study, a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts and olive oil could be the key to delaying cognitive decline and improving brain health, memory and thinking ability in older people. The study was published online in.

“Oxidative stress and vascular impairment are believed to partly mediate age-related cognitive decline, a strong risk factor for development of dementia,” the authors wrote. “Epidemiologic studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet, an antioxidant-rich cardioprotective dietary pattern, delays cognitive decline.”

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, legumes and fish, and it is very limited in meat and full-fat dairy products. Previous studies already associated a Mediterranean diet with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia, but these were mostly observational studies, which are less conclusive.

“This was the first clinical, randomized study using a dietary pattern for good health,” said Emilio Ros, who led the study at Hospital Clinic’s endocrinology department at the University of Barcelona in Spain. “This clinical trial removes the bias and provides first-level evidence,” he added.

The study followed 447 cognitive healthy volunteers between 55 and 80 years of age for a median of just over four years. They were divided into three groups: a supplemented with one liter of extra virgin olive oil a week, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts a day (including walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds), or a low-fat diet, which was used as the control group. After four years, 334 participants took part in follow-up tests.

Brain function tests performed before, during and after the study concluded that the control group, who ate a low-fat diet, had a significant decrease in brain health, memory and thinking ability. The group that ate a Mediterranean diet with supplemental scored best in memory tests, while the olive oil group showed better overall cognitive function (working memory, reasoning, and attention).

“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline. The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean are encouraging but further investigation is warranted,” the study concludes.

Although these results seem very promising, more research is needed to confirm them. Nevertheless, this is not the first time that the Mediterranean diet has been associated with improvements in and longevity, so you can’t go wrong with opting for this kind of lifestyle.

“It’s never too late to change your dietary patterns to improve your health,” lead author Dr. Emilio Ros was quoted as saying in Time. “This surprised even myself.”




International Mediterranean Diet Month 2015: Everything You Need To Know About This Sea Of Flavor, Health

By May 25, 2015 08:00 AM


Food is seen on a table at a restaurant at a port near Barcelona, one of the many countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. REUTERS

By now many of us are familiar with the . But during the month of May, the Mediterranean Foods Alliance likes to “shine an extra special light†on all the diet has to offer.

According to their , Oldways, a food think tank based in Boston, launched the alliance as a way to help people discover Mediterranean foods, flavors, as well as help food companies build their brands around the diet. While the diet is inspired by the of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Italy, and Greece, Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and the European Office of the World Health Organization reportedly introduced the “classic Mediterranean Diet†in 1993 at a conference in Cambridge, MA. The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was also introduced as a way to make complying with the diet easier.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Oldways

reported “food pyramids break up into more specific categories;†the ones at the top of the pyramid should be avoided or eaten sparingly compared to what’s towards the middle and bottom. In the case of the Mediterranean diet, that would be fewer meat and sweets, a moderate amount of poultry and dairy, and a whole lot of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, oil, legumes, and physical activity.

Sea of Health Benefits

ranked the Mediterranean Diet the number one plant-based diet, as well as the third best diet overall. It’s also the third best diet for healthy eating and the third easiest diet to follow, as well as the fourth best diet for heart-health. And there’s no short supply of research to support these rankings.

Research presented during this year’s American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session found the Mediterranean diet helps The more Mediterranean options study participants ate, at least 11 of the 55 available, the less likely they were to develop disease. What’s more is a 2014 published in the journal Stroke found this particular diet controls blood pressure, thus lowers risk of first-time stroke, while shows sourcing more of the Mediterranean’s extra-virgin olive oil and nuts lowers risk of developing peripheral artery disease.

That heart disease causes 80 percent of cases is why many men are referred to the diet, though the heart (and sometimes impotence) isn’t all that stands to improve when eating like an Italian, or Spaniard, or Greek.

Studies show following a Mediterranean diet can , as well as ; and . If that weren’t enough, two different studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to longevity; women especially are 40 percent more likely to .

“The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases plaguing the western world is overwhelming,†Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist, said in a . “Policymakers and the public need to know that such a diet is far more potent than the often dubious benefit of many medications and without the side-effects.â€

Sum of Its Parts

The individual foods recommended under the Mediterranean diet are healthy in their own right. Eating more fruits and vegetables (full of ), for example, reduces , and fruits and vegetables are among the core group of foods each Mediterranean meal should be based off. If not fruits and vegetables, than it’s a choice between whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes and seeds, and/or herbs and spices.

There’s also something to be said for the amount of fish Mediterranean diets consume, at least two servings each week. Oily fish, like salmon and mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (as are some vegetable oils, green vegetables, and walnuts). The reported, “we need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain.†HSPH added omega-3s might protect against heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, too.

The body can’t make omega-3s on its own, adding further value to these nutrient-rich foods.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are really important to human health, whether you’re talking about CVD, brain or immune health,†Philip Calder, a metabolic biochemist and nutritionist from the University of Southampton, said in a . “Health professionals have a key role to play in educating the public about the beneficial effects of including fish (omega 3 fatty acids) in their diets.â€

Olive oil and nuts tend to be the staple Mediterranean foods placed under scrutiny; these are, after all, high in fat. The thing is, they’re high in healthy fat. Monounsaturated fats are fat molecules that have one unsaturated carbon bond, or a double bond, and they can help reduce bad cholesterol levels, the reported. (High cholesterol is not really issue. This was false information disseminated years ago to prepare the way for statins. –MrT.)

Better Together

The Mediterranean diet essentially combines foods individually high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and good-for-you fat for an even healthier eating experience; it doesn’t ban entire food groups, making it easier for dieters [to] comply long-term. Depending on the meals dieters enjoy, foods can also be high in healthy nutrients and vitamins, like fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D.

Perhaps more healthy than the Mediterranean’s traditional menu is their tradition, even ritual, to sit down and eat with each other. Communal eating occurs less in today’s society, but taking the time to eat and drink in someone else’s company can boost social connection, happiness, and individual sense of belonging. Bonus: a 2010 published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found children of families who ate together also made healthier choices throughout the week.

“Food and drink are the lifeblood of social cohesion, integration and differentiation, and are active ingredients in humans’ perceived ties to the sacred and the supernatural,” Dr. Thomas M. Wilson, a professor of anthropology at Binghamton University, “Both food and alcohol build and enhance peoples’ senses of belonging and becoming, the twin bases to social identity.”

Don’t worry; the Mediterranean diet doesn’t skimp on alcohol. Wine is actually listed on Oldways’ pyramid, an alcoholic beverage with its own set of . That said there are some caveats. For one, the diet isn’t necessarily conducive to weight loss, or at least science has yet to find a strong enough relationship. And two, some of the diet’s staple foods may cost you more than usual at the grocery store.

“[The Mediterranean Diet is] moderately pricey,†US News reported. “While some ingredients (olive oil, nuts, fish and fresh produce in particular) can be expensive, you can find ways to keep the tab reasonable. Can’t spring for the $50 bottle of wine? Grab one for $15 instead. And snag whatever veggies are on sale that day, rather than the $3-a-piece artichokes.â€

is an avid writer, runner, and snacker, though not at the same time.