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In 2013, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study suggesting that a higher-fat Mediterranean diet would be beneficial to cardiovascular health. (1) Another study, just published in the same journal, is suggesting that a high-fat diet will boost cognitive function as well as heart health. (2) What’s good for the heart is turning out to be good for the brain!
What is Good for the Heart…
In the first study, 7500 were split into three groups:
Group 1: ate a regular Mediterranean diet.
Group 2: ate the same diet with extra olive oil.
Group 3: ate the same diet with extra almonds.
The almonds and olive oil were delivered to groups 2 and 3 for free during the five-year study. (1)
While none of the groups gained any weight during the study, groups 2 and 3 had a 30% reduction in cardiovascular events (heart attacks and strokes) compared to group 1, who ate the regular Mediterranean diet without extra nuts or olive oil. (1)
… Is Good for the Brain
Similarly, in a more recent study, 447 people with an average age of 66 who had healthy cognitive function were split into three dietary groups and followed for 4 years: (2)
Group 1: ate a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts.
Group 2: ate a Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil.
Group 3: ate a reduced-fat diet.
After four years, the groups that ate a higher-fat diet supplemented with extra olive oil or nuts saw no cognitive decline based on a variety of tests measuring working memory, processing speed and executive function. (2)
The group that ate a reduced-fat diet saw a significant decline in cognitive function and brain health, according to the study. (2)
Other studies support this as well — when we eat healthy fats, not only do we maintain healthier heart, cardiovascular, and brain function, but we can have longer-lasting energy and even live up to 48% longer! (3-7)
(Good) Fats Are Your Friend
Once again, we are seeing more evidence suggesting that a low-fat diet is neither a heart-healthy or brain-friendly diet. Our ancestors were fueled not by sweets, but by a naturally-occurring diet that was higher in fat. Today, we are finally getting it right and it is quite simple: good fats are good and bad (processed fats) are bad. And healthy amounts of good fats, when combined with proper exercise, can deliver wonderful health benefits. But remember, the amount of fats that occur naturally in the diet change with each season. Be sure to sign up for our free seasonal eating guide, The 3-Season Diet Challenge.
How do you incorporate healthy fats into your everyday, active lifestyle?