Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Read this only if you’re getting older

We all want to maintain healthy brains and well-functioning bodies as we age.  So how do we do it?  The most powerful tool available to us appears to be a Mediterranean diet rich in good fat, and yet another 2015 study agrees. [1]  In a four-year randomized controlled trial studying age-related cognitive decline, participants 55–80 years old were divided into three groups.  Two groups followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either 1 liter of extra-virgin olive oil per week or 30 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts) daily, and the third group followed a careful low-fat diet.  Those on the Mediterranean diet with nuts or olive oil had better brain function at the end of four years than those on the low-fat diet.  This builds on 60 years of high-quality studies supporting an omnivorous Mediterranean diet pattern.  The low-fat doctrine has dominated the past half-century, but it’s time to face the good fat facts!  Want a quick Mediterranean diet summary?  See Fat Is Good, Bagels Are Bad.  For a practical and easy-to-read resource on the day-to-day application of Mediterranean diet principles see Good Food, Great Medicine (3rd edition – especially pages 15-16 on Aging Gracefully).  It also includes 185 recipes featuring plenty of raw nuts and extra-virgin olive oil. 

Miles Hassell MD

[1] Valls-Pedret C. et al. JAMA Intern Med 2015;doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1668