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Mediterranean Diet Helps to Preserve Memory

Posted Jun 01 2013 10:09pm

Previously, a number of studies have shown that adherence to a Mediterranean diet – rich in olive oil, nuts, as well as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and limited amounts of dairy products, red meat, soda drinks, processed meats, and sweets – inversely associates with cardiovascular risks.   Georgios Tsivgoulis, from the University of Athens (Greece), and colleagues analyzed data collected on  17,478 African-American and Caucasian men and women, average age 64 years, enrolled in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. The researchers reviewed dietary information to see how closely the participants adhered to a Mediterranean diet. The team also administered tests to measure memory and thinking abilities over an average of four years.  Seven percent (7%) of the participants developed impairments in their thinking and memory skills during the study.  The investigators found that in healthy people, those who more closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 19% less likely to develop problems with their thinking and memory skills. The study authors conclude that: “Higher adherence to [Mediterranean Diet] was associated with a lower likelihood of [incident cognitive impairment] independent of potential confounders.”

Georgios Tsivgoulis, Suzanne Judd, Abraham J. Letter, Andrei V. Alexandrov, George Howard, Virginia G. Wadley, et al.  “Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and risk of incident cognitive impairment.”  Neurology, April 30, 2013.

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Tip #169 - Chocolate Fix
Cocoa and cocoa products – particularly dark chocolate, contain high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant.

A team from University of Milan (Italy) assessed the effect of a dark chocolate composed of 860 mg polyphenols and containing 58 mg epicatechin, a specific type of antioxidant polyphenol. The team assigned 20 healthy men and women, average age 24.2 years, to consume a balanced diet for 4 weeks, midway through which one-half of the subjects were asked to additionally consume dark chocolate. The researchers observed that catechin levels increased just two hours after the consumption of the dark chocolate, a rise that coincidentally correlated to decreases in DNA damage on the order of 20% that were observed in blood cells.

Researchers from the Laboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology at Catholic University (Italy) studied a group of 5,000 subjects in generally good health over a one-year period. Specifically, the evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate, as measured by serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker of inflammation. The team found that those subjects who consumed 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 days had serum CRP concentrations that were significantly lower than those who did not eat any chocolate. According to the researchers, these reductions in CRP translate to a 33% risk reduction of cardiovascular disease in women and 26% reduction in men...

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