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article imageMediterranean-style diet may preserve memory, study says

By Kent Mao     May 3, 2013 in Health
Following a Mediterranean-style diet may help to preserve memory and overall cognition, according to a new study from the U.S.
The study, published in the most recent issue of Neurology, was conducted by monitoring more than 17,000 participants over a 5 year time span.
While individual eating habits varied greatly, the researchers found that individuals that adhered to a Mediterranean diet scored higher on cognitive assessments during follow-up.
Interestingly, the researchers' hypothesis that blacks would fair better than whites in terms of cognitive protection was not found to be true.
Overall, the study's results add to the growing body of evidence that outlines a number of good reasons why one should consider the switch to a Mediterranean diet.
Although a Mediterranean diet may not sound very scientific to most, this style of eating has actually been the subject of much research over the past few decades. Among others, the diet has been linked to a longer lifespan and a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia.
Interest in Mediterranean eating habits began in the 1950s, when early studies identified a link between the prevalence of high fat diets in countries like Greece and Italy with a much lower prevalence of coronary artery disease compared to the United States. Subsequent studies would identify a high intake of unsaturated over saturated fats as the reason for this discrepancy.
A traditional Mediterranean diet encompasses a high intake of vegetables, fruits and nuts; moderately high intake of fish; low intake of dairy and other meat products; and, of course, a much higher ratio of unsaturated-to-saturated fats.
And, in addition to others, regular intake of alcohol (but not binge-drinking) is also highlighted.
But when it comes to cardiovascular disease, the primary selling point of a Mediterranean diet, experts can't seem to agree on the specifics.
While both omega-6 and omega-3 fats are considered essential parts of a healthy diet, overwhelming public interest in fish oil, a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids, may not be entirely deserved, according to some.
The problem arises from studies that have provided contradictory evidence as well as other research which seems to point to omega-6 fatty acids as playing an important role in cardiovascular health. Omega-6 fats make up a much larger portion of a healthy diet and are usually obtained from plant sources. Many plant oils are rich in omega-6 fats, including olive oil, canola oil and hemp seed oil.
Still, experts seem to agree on one thing -- less saturated fats and more unsaturated fats are the key to a healthy heart. And, as this study shows, may even help to preserve memory in the long run.
More about Mediterranean, Diet, Memory, Study, Cardiovascular disease
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