Thinking About Nuts and Olive Oil

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Start with eating a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Then add nuts and olive oil and skip the red meat and your mind will thank you for it as you age. Researchers at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona collected data on 447 older adults (average age was 67-years) between 2003 and 2009. All of the subjects were at risk for heart disease, but had no memory or cognitive problems. Participants followed a Mediterranean-style diet, but were randomly assigned to add either extra virgin olive oil or nuts to the diet. A third group followed a low-fat diet. Mental changes over time were assessed with a variety of memory, attention, and cognitive tests. During the subsequent four years, the groups following a Mediterranean diet showed improvements in memory and cognitive tests compared to the low-fat dieters. The researchers speculate that this eating style protects nerve cells in the brain, possibly by maintaining a healthy myelin sheath surrounding the cell structure. The omega-3s in seafood also have shown promise in enhancing mental function and brain health.

People who eat plate-loads of colorful fruits and vegetables show improved memory and thinking skills as they age, according to a study from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.

Researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain report that adopting the Mediterranean diet helps lower cardiovascular risk factors associated with abdominal obesity, while a study from Milan, Italy found this eating style lowered uterine (endometrial) cancer risk.

Valls-Pedret C, Sala-Vita A, Serra-Mir M, et al: Mediterranean diet and age-related cognitive decline. JAMA Internal Medicine 2015;May 11th.

Smyth A, Dehghan M, O’Donnell M, et al: Healthy eating and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Neurology 2015;May 6th.

Equaras S, Toledo E, Buil-Cosiales P, et al: Does the Mediterranean diet counteract the adverse effects of abdominal obesity? Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases 2015;25:569-574.

Filomeno M, Bosetti C, Bidoli E, et al: Mediterranean diet and risk of endometrial cancer. British Journal of Cancer 2015; May 27th,

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