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Study shows health benefits of Mediterranean diet
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The Mediterranean diet has been shown to decrease the risk for Alzheimer's, according to a study released this month by Columbia University. The Journal of American Medical Association also has linked the diet, along with physical activity, to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's.

The Columbia study found that subjects who were very physically active had a 33 percent risk reduction of Alzheimer's; those who adhered more strongly to a Mediterranean diet had a 40 percent risk reduction. The participants who reported that they were exercising and following a Mediterranean diet had a 60 percent reduction in their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

The study done by Columbia observed 1,880 elderly subjects, with an average age of 77, living in a multi-ethnic community in Northern Manhattan, according to a Columbia University press release.

The university described the Mediterranean diet as one with a high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and monounsaturated fatty acids; a relatively low intake of dairy products, meats and saturated fats; and a moderate consumption of wine, meaning on drink for women and two for men, according to Debbie Walls, dietician at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

The results of the study are more evidence eating fish, fruits, and certain kinds of fats can have health benefits. Past studies have shown the diet also lowers cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease.

"(A) Mediterranean diet is heart healthy because it is low in saturated and trans fat and high in monounsaturated fat," Walls said. "This type diet helps lowers LDL-cholesterol and increase HDL-cholesterol.

"Including fatty fish twice a week appears to decrease the risk of heart arrhythmias and decreases blood triglyceride. Decreasing red meat lowers saturated fat intake."