Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Meditteranean Diet: Promote Brain Health
So much has been said about the Mediterranean diet. Its health claims include fighting heart diseases to preventing cancer to fighting weight gain. A 2007 study done in the United States found that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk of death from both heart disease and cancer.
Now, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health, found that Mediterranean diet may improve brain health. How so? They found that people who enjoy a Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop brain infarcts, small areas of dead tissues linked to thinking and memory. In this particular study, three groups of people were divided according to how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet. MRI brain scans were taken six years later to determine their brain health. They found that those who were closely following the Mediterranean diet were 36 percent less likely to have areas of brain damage than those who were least following the diet.
The study author, Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MSc of Columbia University Medical Center in New York makes this correlation, “The relationship between this type of brain damage and the Mediterranean diet was comparable with that of high blood pressure.” In other words, not eating a Mediterranean diet puts your brain at the same risk as having high blood pressure.
So, should you go Mediterranean? It certainly wouldn’t hurt.
The Mediterranean diet is easy on the palette—well-rounded, well-balanced meals that can potentially do wonders for your heart, brain and even skin. Here‘s to good health:
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Residents of Greece are known to enjoy nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Why should we settle for 5 servings?
• Whole grain goodness.
Instead of skipping carbs, the Mediterranean diet embraces them—but not just any carbs—whole grain carbs that not help to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol but recent studies have also showed that whole grains are good at staving off hunger (thereby promoting weight control).
• Drizzle the oil.
Olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil—these are healthy monounsaturated oils that promote heart health. Drizzle them on your salads, and dip your bread in them instead of using butter/margarine.
Tasty nutty treats that help to fight bad cholesterol. Because they are incredibly rich in fats (albeit the good kind), eat only a handful each day.
• Eat More Fish
Eating fish once or twice a week, in place of meat can help cut back on the intake of saturated fats that are so inherently present in red meats. Cold-water fish also boasts high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can help lower triglycerides and improve health of blood vessels.
• Herbs and Spices
Instead of salt and butter to bring out the flavor of foods, herbs and spices are used generously to flavor foods.
• Red Wine
Red wine is celebrated in the Mediterranean diet. When consumed in moderation (no more than 5 ounces for women and 10 ounces for men), antioxidant-rich red wine has an aspirin-like effect, reducing the blood’s ability to clot.
What’s for dinner tonight? Some broiled salmon, a slice of whole-grain rosemary artisan baked bread, a side of greens seasoned with olive oil and spices, some slices of fresh fruit and a glass of red wine—doesn’t sound too shabby and a great way to stay healthy and alert.