It’s well established in our culture that changing your diet can improve not only your overall physical health but also your cognitive brain health. More than any other regional diet that’s been studied, the Greek or Mediterranean diet contains a set of nutrients that promote brain health and contribute to Alzheimer’s prevention. The best part is that many Greek dishes are not only healthy but delicious and often easy to prepare.
Learn more about the top food lessons for brain health from Greece and try out the below three recipes.
How a Mediterranean Diet Can Slow Alzheimer’s
We’ve known for years that people in certain regions of Greece have significantly lower rates of Alzheimer’s, heart attacks and strokes, than in North America, but there hasn’t been hard data to tell us how exactly the Mediterranean diet improves health. Now we do.
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American medicine has been slow to acknowledge that diet can positively affect brain health, in no small part because when researchers set out to study a specific dietary choice like the Greek diet, and measure its effectiveness in preventing specific brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, it takes decades.
In the case of a rigorous study that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it took five years to establish that “about 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet.”
The Greek Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet
The Greek diet not only offers seniors overall nutritional benefits, but also offers a path to Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention. It differs from the typical American diet in that it uses whole grains rather than white, as well as eating red meat just a handful of times per month. But, it’s rich in a number of things, including:
Red wine (most often consumed with meals)
From high-profile chefs to enthusiastic amateur cooks, people who switch to the Mediterranean style of eating say they love the way they feel and will never go back.
Learn about three popular recipes from the Greek diet below that can help you improve your health.
Two-Bean Greek Salad
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided
4 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 (10-ounce) bag shelled frozen edamame or lima beans
In a serving bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, 2 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
Place steamer basket in saucepan filled with a few inches of water; cook edamame, covered, until tender (about 3 minutes). Transfer edamame to a bowl. Add string beans to steamer; cook, covered, until tender (about 2 minutes). Add beans to edamame. Add tomatoes and olives; toss to combine.
Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush 1 teaspoon oil on one side of pitas; grill, turning, until golden (about 2 minutes). Transfer pitas to a plate. Brush 1/2 teaspoon oil evenly on one side of cheese slices; sprinkle with the remaining oregano and pepper. Grill cheese, seasoned side down, until marks form (about 1 minute); transfer to a plate.
Place 1 pita half on each of 4 plates; top with bean salad and cheese. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
Place an oven rack on lowest position and preheat to 500°F.
Combine oil and garlic. Trim asparagus; toss with salt, pepper and half of garlic mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16 by 10-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a second baking sheet with cornmeal. Place dough on sheet. Add cheese and asparagus, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
Bake until cheese has melted and crust is crisp, about 12 minutes. Top with remaining garlic oil. Cut into 8 slices. Serve.