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hca-brain-health Summer is the best season for fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of flavor, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are important for heart and brain functionality. Maintaining a healthy brain is the best way to fight the onset of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Eating a healthy diet regularly and getting plenty of exercise helps keep your brain strong. Research over the years points to the Mediterranean Diet as one of the most beneficial diets for the brain. The diet focuses on eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy olive oil. Two studies in the journal, Neurology, reported the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet for the brain. In one study1 researchers found that those who closely followed a Mediterranean-like diet were less likely to lose brain volume as they aged compared with those who didn't follow a similar diet. In the second study2 researchers found that the diet appeared to influence the aging of the brain. Here are three summer recipes that follow the Mediterranean Diet guidelines and are great for brain health: Easy Greek Salad Serves 4 Ingredients:
  • 6 vine tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 4 Kapello peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 lb. Greek feta cheese
  • Kalamata olives
Instructions:
  • Cut tomatoes into wedges, about 6 pieces per tomato.
  • Peel cucumbers, slice into thin pieces, then cut each piece in half.
  • Slice each pepper in half, take out the seeds, then cut into small links.
  • Halve the red onions, then slice into slivers.
  • Cube the Greek feta cheese.
  • Toss the ingredients with the dressing until coated.
  • Serve immediately.
To make the dressing: Combine 1 part Greek olive oil to 2 parts balsamic or red wine vinegar. Blend with Greek oregano until thoroughly combined; season with salt to taste. Greek Tzatziki Serves 40, approximately 2 tablespoons each Ingredients:
  • 1 (32 ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber with peel, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Instructions:
  • Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl.
  • Add lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper; whisk until smooth.
  • Pour into a serving dish, cover tightly, and refrigerate 8 hours before serving.
Mediterranean Bean Salad Serves 4 Ingredients:
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions:
  • In a large bowl, stir together the garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lemon juice and zest, tomato, onion, parsley, capers, olive oil and salt.
  • Cover, and refrigerate for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, before serving.
These recipes are refreshing and great for summertime. They don’t require any cooking so you can keep the kitchen cool, and are great for your body and your brain! Sources: Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort
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