Health Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet Boost Cognitive Behaviour In Students
Adherence to the principles of The Mediterranean Diet – with a focus on fresh fruit, vegetables and regular activity – can boost the cognitive performance of young adults, according to a new study.
The study, as reported in The Olive Oil Times, shows that following the Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly demonstrated improved ‘working memory’ – a system in the brain responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information necessary for performing complex cognitive tasks.
Researchers from The University of Bologna, which produced the study, say the results should be considered when developing public programs and educational policies targeting school-age children.
Talking to The Olive Oil Times, Laura Dellolio, a researcher at the University of Bologna and co-author of the study, said:
“Working memory is a short-term memory; it is the ability to remember information and to build on it. It is like having a blackboard one can take notes on, retain and elaborate on.
“We did not expect these results, as the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on students have rarely been researched, and they are usually broadly associated with well-being and general health,” Dellolio said.
Researchers linked better working memory with improved learning skills, impacting academic achievement and opportunity. Language skills, reading comprehension, mathematics and reasoning are impacted by working memory. Working memory is one of the key executive brain functions, along with problem-solving, self-control and mental flexibility, which are interrelated.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Adolescent Health
The Mediterranean Diet has countless health benefits for young people, and is even being recommended for adolescents by the World Health Organization. It is a healthier way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. Research suggests this type of diet can provide various dietary and lifestyle improvements associated with good health, especially among adolescents.
Instead of processed food, meals in this diet are generally composed of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, as well as occasional servings of fish and poultry. The Mediterranean Diet also relies heavily on extra virgin olive oil as a main fat source instead of red meat, butter or processed options. This healthy diet provides numerous nutritional benefits to help young people live an active lifestyle which results in improved cognitive development and overall improved physical fitness.
This most recent study linking the benefits of The Mediterranean Diet with improved cognitive function in young adults supports research that shows teenagers who stick to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet may be helping to reduce the risk factors associated with metabolic and chronic diseases later in life.
The study, conducted by researchers in Calabria, Italy, is based on analysis of the serum of healthy adolescents, aged 14 to 17. It concluded that:
“Optimal adherence to the MD [Mediterranean Diet], rich in fruits, legumes, vegetables, and nuts, exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in adolescents that may be due to the healthy quality of the MD pattern, which may have a positive impact on the prevention of metabolic and chronic diseases in adulthood.”
The study, explained in full in our earlier blog post, used the Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for children and teenagers (KIDMED) as a benchmark to ‘score’ adherence to the Mediterranean diet by study participants.
A value of +1 was assigned for the intake of whole cereals or grain, vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy products, fish, nuts and olive oil. A value of −1 was assigned for skipping breakfast, eating fast food and consuming baked goods and sweets.
The results were ranked from zero to 12, with ‘optimal adherence’ considered a score of eight or more and ‘poor adherence’ a score of three or lower.
Encourage Our Young People To Adopt The Mediterranean Diet For Life
The results of the study showed that among the 43 percent of participants who scored in the ‘optimal adherence’ category, there was clear evidence of increased levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
The information presented demonstrates how following a Mediterranean Diet produces positive effects on comprehensive health and cognitive functioning among young adults. This result signals a need to encourage the principals of the Mediterranean Diet among our young people while they are still in their formative years.
Adopting this dietary routine early can foster the development of a lifetime of healthy habits and choices, simultaneously promoting well-being and disease prevention. Implementing activities that correspond with ingesting quality extra virgin olive oil, such as smart food shopping, frequent physical activity, and mindful plate portioning will provide invaluable knowledge for young people’s current and future selves. To ensure the longevity of young peoples’ healthy eating habits, it is vital to encourage the principles of The Mediterranean Diet and evoo among our youth now.