In 1935, Woody Allen said, “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be one hundred.” This is true to some extent. We have all heard stories of octogenarians who claim to have smoked a cigarette every day of their lives or have engaged in some kind of dangerous taboo and have beaten the odds. However, nowadays we find that there is an alternative. More modern studies reveal that we can eat foods that are enjoyable and will also promote longevity and boost our memories.
A favorite among these is dark chocolate. According to recent studies, this awful temptress that our mothers warned us about, is really quite good for us. You may already be aware that dark chocolate can lower cholesterol, improve brain function, and prevent cardiovascular disease, but did you know it may also protect your skin against the sun? And, take heart if you are struggling with your weight. The fats in dark chocolate are mostly saturated and unsaturated, giving it an excellent fatty acid profile, although it still is best consumed in small amounts because of its high-calorie content and sugar. But, keep in mind, if you do indulge, the higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial to your health.
But what about memory loss? Over 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Is it preventable? While scientists are still not certain about the complete workings of the memory, a John Hopkins Health Alert reported two studies giving evidence to the theory that a Mediterranean diet may be the answer. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet with limited red meat, limited animal fat, and low-fat dairy. One study, printed in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry evaluated two groups of people in their 70s over a period of six years. One group was given a low-fat diet and the other followed a Mediterranean diet. At the conclusion of the test, it was discovered that the group who followed the Mediterranean diet scored higher on cognitive tests and were less likely to develop dementia. So, bottom line, losing the fat may be consistent with losing the marbles. (Take that froyo!!)
However, we must be aware that it is not about loading the fats on, but rather choosing our fats wisely. According to the Mayo Clinic, the reason the Mediterranean diet is so effective is because olive oil is its primary source of fat. Olive oil provides monosaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels and provide antioxidants.
So, do not surrender to complete abandonment when it comes to mealtimes. We all need to be aware that everything should be done in moderation and this article is not suggesting that you go to your local Greek or Southern Italian place and order a highly caloric dish followed by a dark chocolate bar. Overeating can also be very dangerous and is a leading cause of death in America, but, isn’t it nice to know that, in some instances, we can have our cake and eat it too, even if it portion controlled?