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Mediterranean diet: reduced benefits by choosing unhealthy foods

  • February 06, 2021
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Mediterranean diet: reduced benefits by choosing unhealthy foods

Mediterranean diet: reduced benefits by choosing unhealthy foods

Consuming unhealthy foods can reduce the benefits obtained from following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet.

Consuming too many processed or unhealthy foods limits the beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet. According to the researchers of the Rush University Medical Center the effectiveness of other diets would also be attenuated. The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The US study was conducted in Chicago on 5,000 participants (adults over 65). The subjects are included in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, through which their cognitive health was verified between 1993 and 2012. Each of them was asked to fill out a questionnaire on their eating habits (indicating the frequency of consumption for 144 foods) and to perform a test to evaluate functions such as memory and processing capacity.

The level of adherence of the subjects to the Mediterranean Diet was obtained through the data collected. In particular with regard to the consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dried fruit. As Dr. Puja Agarwal, PhD, nutritionist epidemiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College:

Eating a diet that emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, fish, and whole grains can have a positive effect on personal health. However, when combined with fried foods, sweets, refined grains, red or processed meat, we have observed that these typical benefits of the Mediterranean Diet seem to diminish.

From the point of view of cognitive health, researchers see the Mediterranean diet as a key to maintaining the brain more fit. Valid for the age group examined, while further studies will be needed to evaluate its effectiveness in a younger population group (e.g. 34-64):

The individuals who obtained the highest score for adherence to the Mediterranean Diet were cognitively 5.8 years younger than those who obtained the lowest score.

The study by Rush University Medical Center also corroborated what was stated by previous studies in relation to the benefits for thecardiovascular system and against pathologies such as diabetes of the tumor diseases:

The more we increase the consumption of green leafy vegetables, other greens, berries, olive oil and fish in our diets, the better it is for our brain or body to age.

Other studies have shown that red or processed meat, fried food or refined grains are associated with inflammatory levels and accelerated cognitive decline in the elderly. To benefit from diets such as Mediterranea or MIND we should limit our consumption of processed food and other unhealthy foods such as fried and sweets.

Source: Rush University Medical Center

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