A Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. But did you know it can help to boost your memory? A research from Harvard University found, those who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet experienced lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment – i.e. the stages of memory loss preceding dementia.
A Mediterranean diet is characterised by low intakes of red meat, poultry and cheese, and high intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, olive oil and oily fish.
The Mediterranean diet protects memory function by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation, thus preventing damage to the blood vessels supplying our brain. Antioxidants found in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds also have a role to play in protecting blood supply to the brain. The antioxidants lycopene (in tomatoes), anthocyanins (in blueberries) and beta carotenes (in orange-hued and green leafy vegetables) have been linked with boosting brain and memory function.
Our brains rely on a steady stream of glucose throughout the day. When our blood sugar levels dip too low, our cognition is impaired. Fruits, whole grains and legumes provide low GI carbohydrates, which act as the perfect brain food, keeping our blood sugar levels steady.
Add these 10 simple and delicious Mediterranean-inspired recipes to boost your memory and feel the benefits!
Combine 3tbs chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk and ½ tsp vanilla essence. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Top with fresh berries and ½ tsp of honey. Serves 1.
Add to a blender 1 large handful of baby spinach, ¼ avocado, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, ½ frozen banana and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Blend to combine.
On a stovetop, add 3/4 cup of rolled oats and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cooking and stirring for 10 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. Add 1 cup of frozen blueberries, and stir through the warm oats. Remove from the heat, and divide oats into two bowls. Top each with 2tbs Greek yoghurt, a few slices of banana and 1tbs ground LSA. Serves 2.
To make the olive tapenade, add 1 cup of pitted Kalamata olives and 2 cloves of garlic to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running on a low-moderate speed, gradually pour in ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, until smooth paste is formed. Meanwhile – boil an egg to your liking, and toast one slice of sourdough multigrain bread. Spread the olive tapenade on thickly, and top with diced Roma tomatoes, torn fresh basil leaves, a sprinkle of crumbled of feta cheese, and the egg. Serves 1.
Halve a large field tomato, drizzle with olive oil, season lightly, and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a fry pan with olive oil. Add two cloves of crushed garlic and ¼ sliced birds-eye chilli (or chilli according to your taste). Add two small tins of sardines in water, drained. Add one large handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped. Heat through for a few minutes until warm. Meanwhile, prepare two slices of sourdough multigrain toast, and spread with smooth ricotta. Add the sardines to the toast and drizzle over some fresh lemon juice. Season with cracked pepper. Serve with roasted tomato. Serves 2.
Season and pan fry one small fillet of salmon for 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Meanwhile, hard-boil one egg, and steam two baby Carisma potatoes and one handful of green beans. Assemble the green beans and potatoes in a bowl with one large handful of mixed green leaves, one diced tomato, ¼ sliced red onion and ¼ cup olives. Top with salmon and egg. Drizzle with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Serves 1.
Cook 1 cup of spelt pasta spirals according to packet direction. To the cooked pasta, add two cups of shredded baby spinach, 1 cup raw grated zucchini, two diced tomatoes, ¼ cup of sliced olives and six baby mozzarella cheese balls, halved. Top with an 180g tin of tuna in oil, drained. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serves 2.
In a large soup pot, pan fry 1 sliced onion, two cloves of crushed garlic, 4 stalks of sliced celery, 2 peeled and sliced carrots, and cracked pepper. After 10 minutes, add one large diced zucchini. After 5 minutes, add 1 tin of tomatoes, 1tbs tomato paste, and 1 litre of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. After the time has passed, add one tin of drained cannellini beans and 1 large handful of shredded silverbeet. Heat through for 5 minutes, or until leaves have wilted. Serves 4.
Preheat oven to 180C. Place ½ cup 4 bean mix onto the foil with ½ cup tinned tomatoes. Top with 150g fillet of salmon and freshly picked parsley leaves. Shake over some chilli flakes, according to your taste. Wrap the foil around the salmon to completely cover. Bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked to your liking. Serve with steamed green beans and asparagus, and lemon wedges. Serves 1.
Poach two large fillets of salmon in 3 cups of water for 4-5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer the salmon to a plate and reserve the poaching liquid. Add olive oil to a pan and cook one onion and two crushed garlic cloves until onion softens. Add 1tsp cumin and 1 cup of basmati rice, sauté for 1 minute. Add reserved salmon poaching liquid, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes. The rice should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. Stir through 1 cup frozen peas and 1 bunch of baby asparagus spears, cut into 4cm lengths. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, flake salmon and serve on top of pilaf.