More Good News About the Mediterranean Diet
For several years now, the Mediterranean diet has been touted as the diet of choice for reducing heart disease and improving brain health. Eating lots of salad, fresh fruit, vegetables, a few nuts, a little lean meat, a little fish and small amounts of cheese, olive oil and wine, with meals, can cut the risk of death from heart attacks and stroke.
Recent research from Spain indicates that by adding two healthy fats, extra virgin olive oil and a handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) daily to the basic Mediterranean Diet will boost brain health even more. 500 volunteers in the trial were aged 55 to 80, all at high risk of heart disease because of diabetes, a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels or they were overweight or smokers. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil added; the same diet but with nuts added; or just a standard diet with advice to cut the fat.
After nearly 6 1/2 years, people who consumed extra-virgin olive oil and a handful of nuts daily were less likely to show the early signs of dementia than those who stuck to a more traditional diet. “Our findings support increasing evidence on the protective effects of the Mediterranean Diet on cognitive function, ”Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez of the University of Navarra in Spain and colleagues reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. The idea that a heart-healthy diet could also help fight Alzheimer’s fits in with growing evidence that “the kinds of things we associate with being bad for our heart turn out to be bad for our brain,” said Dr. Marilyn Albert, a Johns Hopkins neurology professor and spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s Association. Olive oil and nuts contain monounsaturated fats, which are better for artery health than the saturated fats found in butter, meat and lard.
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About the Author: Maria Geronimo is the Public Relations Director at EatSmart Products.