Those cheat days may be having an impact on more than just your waistline.
A new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that regularly sneaking fried foods, sweets, refined sugars and red meat counteract the benefits of an otherwise healthy diet.
The researchers looked specifically at the Mediterranean diet, which has shown to have considerable benefits not just for overall health, but for slowing the rate of cognitive decline.
Researchers assessed 5,001 adults who were part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which studied cognitive health of adults 65 years of age and older. Those who were true to the Mediterranean diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, nuts and legumes kept their brain about 5.8 years younger than those who noshed on chicken wings, hamburgers and chips, according to a study published in the Jan. 7 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The more we can incorporate green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, olive oil, and fish into our diets, the better it is for our aging brains and bodies. Other studies show that red and processed meat, fried food and low whole grains intake are associated with higher inflammation and faster cognitive decline in older ages,” Puja Agarwal, a nutritional epidemiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College, said in a news release. “To benefit from diets such as the Mediterranean diet … we would have to limit our consumption of processed foods and other unhealthy foods such as fried foods and sweets.”