Remember this, because it just might improve your memory: more fish, less steak.
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A new study — confirming earlier findings — shows that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like those in the Mediterranean diet, may help preserve memory and thinking abilities later in life.
The Mediterranean diet and omega-3
The study, which teamed researchers from University of Alabama and University of Athens, Greece, looked at 17,500 people of an average age of 64. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet were 19 percent less likely to develop memory and thinking problems.
The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is made up of foods rich in omega-3 like fish, chicken and healthy oils.
Julia Zumpano, RD, didn’t take part in the study but is a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic.
She says of the Mediterranean diet, “It’s higher in omega-3 than most other diets because it encourages a lot of fatty fish as well as nuts.” She adds that the diet is also high in olive and canola oils, both rich omega-3 sources.
Tips to bring in the taste of the Mediterranean
Researchers think the results prove the importance of diet in preserving brain health later on in life. Zumpano agrees and says implementing small changes to your diet now can make all the difference:
- Replace saturated animal fats with fish or chicken “Instead of eating a steak or burger, try a filet of salmon,” says Zumpano. Other rich sources of omega-3s from the lakes and sea: halibut, mackerel, oysters, sardines, trout, fresh tuna and herring.
- Go for a plant-based diet Leafy green vegetables are best, including Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, parsley and watercress.
- Use olive oil instead of butter Go with olive oil for cooking and for the classic oil-and-vinegar salad dressings, too. Other omega-3-rich oils include flaxseed, mustard, soybean and walnut.
- Sprinkle nuts on your salad instead of fatty cheese Walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts are all good choices to add a healthy crunch to your salad — and of course they’re great for snacking.