Sound Bites: The Very Best Diet & Eating for Brain Health

Healthy lifestyle

Updated May 30, 2017 @ 4:05 pm

By Megan O. Steintrager

And The Award For Best Diet Goes To: U.S. News and World Report  recently released its seventh annual ranking of the best diets, which judges each diet on “how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease.”

The DASH Diet, a high-fiber, plant-heavy diet that’s recommended by the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, grabbed the top spot for Best Diet Overall (an honor its nabbed every year). Second place went to the Mediterranean Diet, and in third is the MIND Diet, which combines elements of DASH and the Mediterranean Diet to focus on foods that help the brain. One thing that the DASH Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and the MIND Diet have in common is that they all include plenty of produce, so you really can’t go wrong loading up your grocery cart with fruits and vegetables.

Your Brain On The Mediterranean Diet: Speaking of the Mediterranean Diet — which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil and light alcohol consumption — its gotten more positive attention for its potential role in keeping the brain healthy. 

While brain shrinkage is a natural part of aging (sigh), a new study published in the journal Neurology “found that people in their mid-70s who ate a Mediterranean-style diet lost less brain mass than people who ate a diet more typical of their native Scotland,” TODAY Health reports. “Those who ate more fruits, vegetables, olive oil and the like, and less fried food, red meat and cheese had less brain shrinkage, the team found.” And even more good news about the Mediterranean Diet: U.S. News and World Report‘s ranking named it the Easiest Diet to Follow. We’ll raise a (moderately sized) glass of red wine to that!

Salmon seasoned with salt, cashews, walnuts, sliced avocado, and olive oil on a butcher block, garnished with parsley.

Surprising New Advice About Peanut Allergies And Kids: If you have young children, you likely know about the rising incidence of dangerous and potentially fatal peanut allergies. The increase led to cautions against feeding anything containing peanuts to infants and young children. Now, in a major reversal, new national health guidelines released by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases advise parents to give their children peanut products “early and often,” starting when they’re infants, as a way to head off the development of peanut allergies, the New York Times reports. The guidelines vary according to a child’s risk and some children should only be introduced to peanuts under a doctor’s supervision, so be sure to read up on the guidelines and talk to your baby’s doctor before feeding him or her anything containing peanuts. (Also note that whole nuts and nut pieces are a choking risk and should never be fed to babies and small children.)

The guidelines vary according to a child’s risk and some children should only be introduced to peanuts under a doctor’s supervision, so be sure to read up on the guidelines and talk to your pediatrician before feeding him or her anything containing peanuts. (Also note that whole nuts and nut pieces are a choking risk and should never be fed to babies and small children.)

Little boy sits at a table and opens up peanut shells

New Certification For Soon-to-Be-Organics: Under current government guidelines, farmers who want to switch from selling conventional to organic products have to use organic practices for three years before they can call their products organic. That’s a big financial hit for farmers, who continue to be paid the lower conventional prices for their goods during the transition. 

Now a new transitional certification proposed by the Organic Trade Association and approved by the USDA could help make things easier for those farmers, according to NPR. But don’t expect to see a “transitional” label on boxes of cereal or bags of apples. Instead, this in-between phase is likely to make the biggest difference to farmers who grow crops that are fed to animals — with the growing demand for organic meat and other animal products, there’s a chronic shortage of organic animal feed. The new certification should help both the grain producers and meat and dairy producers make the organic transition faster and easier.

Is Healthy Food Really More Expensive? People tend to think that healthy food is more expensive — and that more expensive food is healthier — regardless of the facts, according to a group of researchers from Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia.

“The results mean not only that marketers can charge more for products that are touted as healthy, but that consumers may not believe that a product is healthy if it doesn’t cost more,” according to a statement from Ohio State University. So, for your physical and financial health, it pays to remember that many components of a healthy diet — fresh produce, beans and other legumes, and just cooking at home rather than eating out — can be quite affordable.

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