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 12:12 PM EDT
By Mary West

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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.

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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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