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Greek Food Is Smart Food

Sun, 18 Feb 2007 by

A Mediterranean diet makes your heart happy and provides another benefit: a healthier memory.

Trying to eat more like a Greek -- that is, simply enjoying more fish, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes than most Americans usually do -- may be as good for your brain as it is for your heart. In fact, new research shows it could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by up to 40 percent.

What makes the Mediterranean diet so kind to your mind? Researchers suspect it's a combination of the high levels of vitamins C and E, healthy monounsaturated fats, and flavonoids in this seaside fare. All help keep arteries healthy, and that keeps blood flowing steadily to the brain. This mix of nutrients also fights oxidative stress and inflammation, two processes strongly linked to Alzheimer's disease.

In fact, some of the most potent inflammation-fighters (omega-3 fatty acids) are in fish, a staple of the Mediterranean diet. These fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer's and slow the rate of mental decline in those who already have very mild forms of the disease. Get your fill of these good fats by eating fish twice a week or taking fish-oil supplements.

The benefits of going Mediterranean (think southern Italian, too) extend to your appetite as well. People who graze on couscous, falafel, chopped salad, and other traditional Greek dishes tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day, so you'll stay sharp and eat less!

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