1. Eating like a Mediterranean means better quality of life. Recent Spanish research finds that the Mediterranean-style diet, already linked to low risk of chronic diseases, also promotes “better health-related quality of life.
Scientists analyzed adherence to a Mediterranean-style eating pattern among 11, 014 university students. At the conclusion of the study, 4 years later, students scored their physical and mental health. Those who most closely adhered to the diet at the start scored higher on the questionnaire.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fish, olive oil, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Study published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2. Skipping sugar-sweetened beverages may prevent heart attacks.
Harvard School of Public Health researchers studied the 42, 883 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and found that those consuming the most (6.4/week) sugar-sweetened sodas and other drinks were found to be 20% more likely to suffer a first heart attack over 22 years than those who drank no sweetened beverages.
Each additional daily serving of the beverages boosted men’s heart-disease risk by 19%.
In the previous Nurses’ Health Study, women who consumed the most sugar-sweetened beverages experienced a 15% risk of heart disease.
The association for both genders persisted after adjustment for blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, suggesting that “sugar-sweetened beverages may impact on coronary heart disease risk above and beyond traditional risk factors.”
No increased risks were found for consumption of artificially sweetened sodas.
Study published in Circulation
3. Low-fat dairy linked to fewer strokes. Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute followed nearly 75,000 initially healthy men and women for more than 10 years, during which time 4,000 suffered a stroke.
Those consuming the most (4 servings a day) low-fat dairy products were 12% less likely to have a stroke than non-dairy consumers.
Researchers speculate that proteins and Vitamin D in the dairy products may protect against stroke by lowering blood pressure, a key risk factor.
Study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association
4. Get moving to protect against Alzheimer’s. Researchers at Chicago’s Rush University measured the activity levels of 716 people free of cognitive impairment, average age 82. Each participant was fitted with a wrist device called an actigraph that recorded movement of all kinds during the first 10 days of the study.
Over the next 4 years, 71 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s. Those in the bottom 10% of recorded activity were twice as likely to develop the disease as were the most active 10%.
Researchers noted that animal studies showed that moving around in an enriched environment protected against cognitive decline, possibly by increasing the number of neurons and the size of blood vessels feeding the brain.
They concluded, “Even very old people who can’t participate in formal exercise may be able to derive the benefit.”
Study published in Neurology
Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2012 National Center for Biotechnology Information: US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health