Mediterranean Diet May Improve Teens' Grades

A new study shows the consumption of the Mediterranean diet is associated with higher scores in core school subjects and verbal skills in adolescents.

Aug. 28, 2018
By Mary West

Recent News

Researchers in a Spanish study found that adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) improved the scholas­tic per­for­mance of teenagers. The authors attrib­uted the ben­e­fit to the eat­ing plan’s abil­ity to pro­mote bet­ter sleep qual­ity.

Education and pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als should work together to achieve both improved health sta­tus and aca­d­e­mic per­for­mance in ado­les­cents.- Researchers

Academic per­for­mance dur­ing ado­les­cence has a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on future health and work con­di­tions,” said the authors at Jaume I University in Castellón, Spain.

Studies link the MedDiet to a host of health ben­e­fits. The eat­ing plan’s richly nutri­tious foods, includ­ing fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, fish, nuts and olive oil, appear to pro­vide the body with what it needs to func­tion opti­mally. The diet includes dairy prod­ucts and poul­try in mod­er­a­tion but restricts red meat con­sump­tion to no more than a few times a month.

According to the researchers, ear­lier inves­ti­ga­tions have shown that teens have bet­ter aca­d­e­mic and cog­ni­tive suc­cess when they con­sume fruits, veg­eta­bles and fish, as well as limit their con­sump­tion of salty snacks and sodas.

Despite this grow­ing evi­dence of the influ­ence of diet on cog­ni­tion, the effect of adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet on aca­d­e­mic per­for­mance in ado­les­cents has been poorly inves­ti­gated,” the authors added.


In the study pub­lished in Acta Paediatrica, 269 teenagers of an aver­age age of 13.9 were recruited from 38 sec­ondary schools and sports clubs in Castellon, Spain. Adherence to the MedDiet was eval­u­ated by the KIDMED ques­tion­naire. Sleep dura­tion was mea­sured by a wrist-worn accelerom­e­ter, while sleep qual­ity was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index test. Final grades and a val­i­dated test served as deter­mi­nants of school per­for­mance.

Analysis of the data showed closer adher­ence to the MedDiet was linked to bet­ter scores in core sub­jects, lan­guage and ver­bal abil­ity, as well as higher grade point aver­ages. Sleep qual­ity played an impor­tant role in the con­nec­tion between the MedDiet and the scholas­tic ben­e­fits.

Education and pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als should work together to achieve both improved health sta­tus and aca­d­e­mic per­for­mance in ado­les­cents,” the authors con­cluded.

What spe­cific aspects of the MedDiet might under­lie the scholas­tic ben­e­fit? Olive Oil Times put the ques­tion to Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor Erica Steele of Holistic Family Practice of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The MedDiet has a pos­i­tive out­come on brain health and brain devel­op­ment due to its high amount of omega‑3 fatty acids, which are con­sid­ered smart fats,’ said Steele.

These fats sup­ply build­ing mate­r­ial for the brain and offer sub­stan­tial mem­ory-pro­tec­tive qual­i­ties. In a study pub­lished in the Neurology Paper, sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that those with lower blood con­cen­tra­tions of omega‑3 fatty acids per­formed worse on assess­ments and think­ing tests that involved mem­ory and prob­lem-solv­ing. The heart-healthy MedDiet also seems to be good for the brain,” she said.

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