Category Archives: Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet may help stave off cognitive decline for older adults

150511124849_1_540x360We’ve been hearing more and more regarding the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. FoodFacts.com has always considered this diet as more of a lifestyle choice as it was born from the lifestyle of the Mediterranean population. Rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean proteins (mostly fish), the diet allows for a wide variety of healthy food choices that offer both flavor and variety. The health benefits are truly impressive and we keep learning that there are new ones linked to Mediterranean-style eating. Here is another new addition to that already-impressive list.

Supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain but the authors warn more investigation is needed, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Emerging evidence suggests associations between dietary habits and cognitive performance. Oxidative stress (the body’s inability to appropriately detoxify itself) has long been considered to play a major role in cognitive decline.

Previous research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may relate to better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia. However, the observational studies that have examined these associations have limitations, according to the study background.

Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, and Ciber Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, and coauthors compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet.

The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) who were at high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.

Of the participants, 155 individuals were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week; 147 were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and 145 individuals were assigned to follow a low-fat control diet.

The authors measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and they constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition. After a median of four years of the intervention, follow-up tests were available on 334 participants.

At the end of the follow-up, there were 37 cases of mild cognitive impairment: 17 (13.4 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group; eight (7.1 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group; and 12 (12.6 percent) in the low-fat control group. No dementia cases were documented in patients who completed study follow-up.

The study found that individuals assigned to the low-fat control diet had a significant decrease from baseline in all composites of cognitive function. Compared with the control group, the memory composite improved significantly in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts, while the frontal and global cognition composites improved in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

The authors note the changes for the two Mediterranean diet arms in each composite were more like each other than when comparing the individual Mediterranean diet groups with the low-fat diet control group.

“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil 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 diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted,” the study concludes.

If you’re interested in trying to follow a Mediterranean diet, it’s fairly simple to do and there are resources all over the internet that can help you. Mediterranean-style eating emphasizes vegetables, fruits and grains supplemented with fish and some other lean proteins in small amounts. It allows for flexible menus — you won’t be eating the same meals repeatedly. It also allows for tremendous flavors and doesn’t ignore your desire to eat well at the expense of being healthy. And most importantly, it’s really not a diet. It doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s really an eating style that’s simple to incorporate into your life. It’s definitely worth a look.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511124849.htm

Women following Mediterranean diet reduce their risk of ischemic stroke

medi3112014We’re constantly hearing about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. It’s also not a diet — it’s an eating lifestyle originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. Mediterranean diet basics include high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. The diet has been shown to be more effective than a low-fat diet in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure and promotes cardiovascular health.

Now, a new study reveals that Mediterranean diet is beneficial for women as it can lower ischemic stroke by 18 percent. This is mostly effective if women will strictly follow their Mediterranean diet.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the response of more than 100,000 female educators and administrators who answered the California Teachers Study and surveyed their data. The participants answered food-frequency questionnaires to analyze their diets then they were group based on the frequency of having a Mediterranean diet.

For the analysis, the researchers adjusted all factors that can affect the result such assmoking history, exercise and BMI. After adjusting all factors, the researchers found out that indeed, teachers who often had Mediterranean diet had lower risk of stroke.

As Ayesha Sherzai said, the study showed that women who closely followed the Mediterranean diet cut their stroke risk by up to 18 percent. Sherzai is a neurologist and one of the authors of the study.

For the research, Mediterranean diet means having a diet that includes plenty of legumes, vegetables, olive oil and nuts, and smaller amounts of full-fat dairy products and red meat.

According to the researchers, aside from lowering risk of ischemic stroke, this type of diet has been linked to lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. a Harvard study also reported that Mediterranean diet helps in lowering inflammation and also helps in increasing the longevity.

“Eating a mostly plant-based diet and eating less meat and saturated fats can make a real difference in stroke risk,” said Sherzai.

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that the Mediterranean diet is simple to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle. It’s a satisfying dietary option, offering tremendous variety and flavor. And let’s not forget that the health benefits just keep adding up!

http://www.smnweekly.com/mediterranean-diet-benefits-women-by-reducing-risk-of-ischemic-stroke/15818/

Anti-cancer compound identified in Mediterranean Diet

FoodFacts.com has been finding fascinating health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet for the past several months. We’re always excited by the new findings because the traditional Mediterranean diet is such a flavorful, fresh way to eat that incorporating it into your lifestyle is an easy transition for most to make. Today we found more information we wanted to share with our community.

There’s new research out of Ohio State University that links a compound that is abundant in the Mediterranean diet to eliminating the power of cancer cells to escape cell death. It appears that this compound alters a specific step in gene regulation and turns the cancer cells into normal cells that will die.

One of the reasons that cancer is a difficult disease to cure is that cancer cells thrive by inhibiting the regular cell death process. The researchers from Ohio State discovered that a compound found in some plant-based foods, apigenin, could re-educate breast cancer cells, leaving them to live and die by the regular cell lifecycle.

Though finding that apigenin can influence cancer cell behavior was an important outcome of the work, the researchers noted the importance of their new biomedical research technique and its contribution to nutraceutical research. The technique was compared to “fishing” for human proteins in cells that interact with molecules available in the diet.

Through experimentation, the researchers established that apigenin has relationships with proteins that have specific functions. The most important was a protein called hnRNPA2. It appears that this protein influences the activity of messenger RNA, which contains the instructions to produce a specific protein. The production of messenger RNA results from splicing RNA. It is noted that abnormal splicing is the problem with about 80 percent of all cancers. It appears that in cancer cells, two types of splicing occur when only one takes place in a normal cell. It’s an integral part of how cancer cells stay alive and continue to reproduce instead of following the normal cell lifecycle.

When apigenin was introduced, the splicing that inhibited cell death was eliminated. The single-splice characteristic was restored to the cells, causing them to die in a natural manner.

Parsley, celery and chamomile tea are the most common sources of apigenin, but it is found in many fruits and vegetables. Since the Mediterranean Diet is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, the compound is most readily available through this particular style of eating.

FoodFacts.com is once again thrilled by the knowledge being uncovered about the powerful health benefits that come to us through pure, fresh foods. It’s exciting to imagine a future where nutraceuticals become the chosen treatments for the chronic and often fatal diseases that plague so many in our population. In the meantime, the Mediterranean Diet is rich in many health benefits. It’s easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and allows for an abundance of food options. You’ll enjoy your food. You won’t be bored with your diet. And you’ll be doing something positive for your health!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130520154303.htm

Mediterranean Diet linked to memory preservation and cognitive function

FoodFacts.com’s main focus and mission has always been to educate consumers on the relationship between our diets and our health. With so many controversial ingredients present in our food supply, as well as unhealthy amounts of added sugar and sodium levels, consumers need straight answers and unbiased information on developing the dietary habits that will help them live longer, healthier lives.

So just how should we be eating? While there are a plethora of opinions on different dietary habits, the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits always seems to find its way into the news through continuing research. Today we found a study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Athens, Greece linking the Mediterranean diet to the preservation of memory and cognitive abilities.

The researchers collected data from the REGARDS study (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke). This study included data on over 30,000 people over 45 years of age between 2003 and 2007. Participants were followed up on regularly to record health changes. Among these participants, over 14,000 Caucasians and African-Americans who followed the Mediterranean diet were examined. The average age for this sub-group was 64. They were given tests to measure their memory and cognitive abilities over a period of four years. Seventeen percent of them had diabetes.

It was found that among those without diabetes who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely, the risk of memory problems and declining cognitive ability was lower by 19% in comparison to the rest of the population of the subgroup. In addition, the differences in declines among Caucasians and African-Americans was not statistically significant. The presence of diabetes seemed to hinder the effects of the Mediterranean diet as no benefit was realized amongst those participants who had the disease.

The researchers noted that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids are linked to better memory and cognitive functioning. The Mediterranean diet is rich in foods containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Prior studies have pointed out many other health benefits of the Mediterranean diet … some of which linked it to increased mental health, as well as brain health, as it appears to reduce damage to small blood vessels.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates the dietary patterns traditionally found in Southern Italy, Greece and Spain. It includes the consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products, moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.

FoodFacts.com feels that the Mediterranean diet has shown so many potential benefits that it’s something to be seriously considered. This relatively simple style of eating is a fairly easy transition for most consumers who are already focused on the consumption of fresh, whole foods. Its benefits continue to unfold and we’re sure that this isn’t the last of the good news that we’ll hear regarding its advantages.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/259793.php

An unhealthy recipe revealed: the immediate effects of junk food on arterial health

There are some subjects that FoodFacts.com has always been aware of … and the subject matter here is one of them. We’ve been strong advocates of the “no junk food diet” – understanding that the controversial ingredients contained in junk food combined with their saturated fat content creates a recipe for poor health. New research coming from the EPIC Center for the Montreal Heart Institute makes a clear point regarding the effects of consuming just one meal of junk food.

The study focused on a comparison between the effects of junk food and a typical Mediterranean meal on the inner lining of blood vessels. This is called endothelial function and measuring it actually determines how the arteries dilate after eating. The dilation of arteries is linked to the risk of the development of coronary artery disease.
28 non-smoking men participated in the study. Prior to beginning, each participant had an ultrasound of a specific artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12 hours. This reading was used to assess a baseline for endothelial function.

The first week, each of the men consumed a Mediterranean-style meal. This meal included salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil. 51% of the total calories of the meal came from fat that was either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. At two hours and four hours after meal consumption, the mean received an ultrasound to determine the effect of the meal on their endothelial function.

The following week, the men consumed a different meal. This time it was a breakfast sandwich with an egg, sausage, a slice of cheese and three hash browns. This meal contained a total of 58% of calories from fat and was high in saturated fats. Again, they each underwent ultrasounds at two and four hours after meal consumption.

It was discovered that after consuming the meal high in saturated fats, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when fasting. After consuming the Mediterranean meal that was high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the participants arteries dilated normally.

The study clearly indicates that junk food containing high levels of saturated fats is bad for your health no matter how infrequently you’re eating it. The effect is immediate and noticeable by your body. FoodFacts.com understands the importance of this detailed research that can plainly communicate the dangers of junk food consumption to our health and mark the differences that take place in our bodies immediately after eating different types of fats.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062007.htm