Diet for Improved Brain Strength

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Diet for Improved Brain Strength

We all recognize the benefits of a Mediterranean style diet, but did you know that beefing up on nuts and olive oil can help you think?

Particularly for Baby Boomers and older, adding nuts boosts memory and including extra virgin olive oil improves cognition. For the best results, study author Dr. Emilio Ros of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, suggests integrating those foods into your diet now, while your brain is functioning at full force.

The researchers tested 333 subjects with cardiovascular problems like obesity and smoking with a median age of 66. Divided into three groups, each eating a Mediterranean diet.  They gave one group extra nuts, another extra olive oil and maintained a standard low-fat Mediterranean diet for the control group.

The individuals eating more nuts improved their memories while those consuming more olive oil increased their cognitive function. Both groups scored better than the control group.

The scientists attribute the beneficial effects to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements of the added foods. Olive oil and nuts are rich in phenolic compounds that can help protect against neuro-degeneration and improve blood flow.  The risk of stroke declined by almost half in the group eating more nuts and by a third in the group using more olive oil.

Other researchers hail the results, but question if Ros could replicate them in a larger, more rigorous study.

“What if only 50% of participants actually used the olive oil or nuts?” asked  Dr. David Knopman, professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.

Without knowing that, he warned researchers to view the results with caution.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, May 2015
Pamela Hasterok