Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Close Banner
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

These Nutrition Studies Have Changed Our Perspective On Sugar, The Mediterranean Diet, & More

Hannah Frye
Author: Expert reviewer:
March 23, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Expert review by
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Registered Dietitian
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, chef, and writer with a love of science and passion for helping people create life-long healthy habits. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University, a Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute, and master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University.
Image by Leah Flores / Stocksy
March 23, 2024

In December of last year, we shared our top nutrition learnings from 2023—from the metabolic health benefits of savory breakfasts to the case for seafood diversity. Now, even just a few months into 2024, we've seen research that is just as worthy of time in the spotlight.

With findings that make the case for eating for biological age, provide new intel on the Mediterranean diet, and more, these nutrition studies have been the talk of our mindbodygreen team lately:

1.

Your food choices can help lower your biological age (and dementia risk)

Biological age is more than a trendy test in the well-being community—it can actually help gauge dementia risk. And food can play a huge role in it. In one new study published in the journal Annals of Neurology, researchers set out to understand why a healthy diet is linked to a lower risk of dementia,1 discovering that biological age plays a role.

To do so, they analyzed data from over 1,600 participants aged 60 or older without dementia at the start. They found that adhering to a healthy diet, as measured by the MIND diet score, was associated with a slower pace of aging and reduced risks of dementia and mortality in the future. 

This slower pace of aging, as measured by epigenetic factors, accounted for a pretty significant portion of the association between a healthy diet and lower dementia risk. This means that monitoring the pace of aging could in fact inform dementia prevention strategies. 

Still, there are plenty of other factors at play when it comes to biological age—so don’t freak out if yours is higher than your chronological age. It doesn’t mean you’re sure to get dementia. However, this study does remind us that attending to our well-being through a holistic diet rich in brain-boosting foods is worthwhile for longevity.

A bit more on the MIND project

The MIND diet is a hybrid between the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which are popular for their heart and brain health benefits. It does have unique factors. For example, while all vegetables are welcome in the MIND diet, it emphasizes leafy green vegetables. This diet also emphasizes eating berries—specifically blueberries and strawberries—as the primary source of fruit. Here, dive deeper into the MIND diet.
2.

Sugar-sweetened beverages raise the risk of cardiovascular concerns, regardless of physical exercise

A recent meta-analysis2 published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition examined 20 clinical studies investigating the cardiovascular risks of various beverages, including tea, coffee, fruit juice, energy drinks, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages. 

The analysis revealed that long-term consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and alcohol increased the risk of cardiovascular mortality in both men and women. However, due to insufficient data, researchers were unable to determine the cardiovascular risk associated with fruit juices (high in natural sugar) and energy drinks.

Interestingly, another research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition around the same time investigated whether physical activity could combat the effects of sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages3 on cardiovascular disease. 

In this study, comprised of 100,000 adults, those who drank SSBs more than twice a week had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of recommended levels of physical activity. 

Now, don't get it twisted, exercise is great for the heart. However, this study suggests it may not fully diminish the negative effects of excessive sugary drinks—another reason to be mindful of sugar intake. 

Neither of these studies included the impact of the occasional sugar-sweetened beverage, so no need to go overboard with restriction. Instead, just be mindful of how much sugar is in the drinks you're reaching for daily.

When in doubt, check the label

Prepackaged coconut water, coffee drinks, and fruit juices can have heaps of hidden added sugar even if the packaging is covered in buzzwords like "natural" or "healthy." Always check the label and ingredient list—but know that sugar goes by many names. Learn more about decoding nutrition labels by enrolling in mindbodygreen's Functional Nutrition Training. (Use code 500SAVINGS at checkout for $500 off.)
3.

The Mediterranean diet may lower depression risk in women 60+

The Mediterranean diet, celebrated for its longevity perks and user-friendly guidelines, keeps racking up new accolades. So when we came across a new study showing yet another benefit of following it, we weren't necessarily surprised. However, what's interesting about this research is that it dug into the specific foods that could be driving most of the diet's effects.

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, surveyed 798 participants aged 64 to 97 to assess adherence to the Mediterranean diet. People (particularly women) who closely followed this diet had a 54.6% lower risk of depression symptoms4.

What’s more, women who ate three or more servings of fish per week had a 62% lower risk of depression. For men, consuming more nuts and fruits was linked to an 82% reduction in depressive symptoms.

Choose your fish wisely

While some cultures are well-accustomed to daily seafood, studies show Americans tend to under-consume fish. So, take this as a reminder to source some of your proteins from the sea every once in a while. To ensure your catch is sustainable, opt for small, fatty "SMASH" fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) when possible. 
4.

Protein intake is critical (especially during mid-life)

We already know that protein is paramount for optimal well-being (dive deeper into why and how much you need here) but one new study stresses its profound importance during midlife. 

Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study analyzed data from over 48,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study cohort who were aged 60 and above in 1984. They utilized food frequency questionnaires to assess protein intake (both plant and animal proteins). Researchers deemed “healthy aging” as freedom from major chronic diseases, good mental health, and no impairments in cognitive or physical function. 

Plant vs. animal protein

This study found that plant protein has longevity perks, but that's not to say animal proteins aren't beneficial, too. Protein from animal sources contains all the essential amino acids in the proper amounts that humans need to build significant muscle mass. Plant proteins usually don't, and are therefore labeled "incomplete proteins." One complete protein you can get from plant sources is soy—a protein that’s also proven worthwhile for healthy skin aging

The takeaway

There’s novel nutrition research hitting research journals every day—these are just some of the many exciting advances of 2024 we’ve seen so far. If you're in the market for a deeper dive into nutrition, enroll in our Functional Nutrition Training or pick up one of these editor-approved well-being books for your bedside table.

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

What Is Meditation?

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Light Watkins

Box Breathing

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

What Breathwork Can Address

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

Nutrition | Rich Roll

What to Eat Before a Workout

Nutrition | Rich Roll

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Nutrition | Sahara Rose

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Love Languages

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Related Videos (10)

What Is Meditation?

Box Breathing

What Breathwork Can Address

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

What to Eat Before a Workout

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love Languages

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

More On This Topic

more Health
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.