Nutrition is important in helping us age well. But what is the best combination of foods for both brain and heart health? There has been some controversy surrounding low fat diets as being important for heart health. The research tells us that fat is important for brain health.

And surely we want both a health heart and a healthy brain as we age.

So which diet is best for both brain and heart health? Is the Mediterranean Diet better for your heart and your brain than a low fat diet?

What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, olive oil, and fish, with a moderate amount of alcohol intake and low intake of dairy products, meat, and poultry.

This diet is typically eaten in countries like Italy and Greece and includes a hefty dose of extra virgin olive oil and of course red wine.

I also think eating in Italy and Greece seems to be done with a whole lot more enjoyment than eating in North America, and maybe we need to add that into our diet as well!

 

Mediterranean diet

But what does the science say?

The Mediterranean Diet for Your Heart

In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, the group that was eating from this type of menu was 45% less likely to die compared to the low-fat diet group.

The interesting aspect of this type of diet is the use of extra virgin olive oil as a source of fat. Fat is an important part of a diet that supports brain health.

So we can check off the Mediterranean diet as supporting a healthy heart!

The Mediterranean Diet for Your Brain

Recent research has linked the Mediterranean diet to higher brain volume and the slowing of cellular aging. Interestingly the  PREDIMED study  showed that adding nuts to the Mediterranean diet boosted measures of memory, while supplementing the diet with extra-virgin olive oil improved global and frontal cognition.

While other factors play a role in cognitive decline – clearly the Mediterranean diet is an absolute winner.

So implement some changes in your diet to include more fruits and vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and nuts to improve your brain and heart health.

 Changing nutritional habits takes work. One way to track your fruit and vegetable intake is to place 7 elastics on one wrist and transfer them to the other wrist each time you consume a helping of fruits or veggies. It’s a great way to remain aware and intentional when you are working to incorporate changes into your diet. It is the proverbial string around your finger.