Life Span and Life Style In Le Marche, Italy
In Le Marche, as the rest of Italy, people follow a Mediterranean diet. This diet continues to make headlines for being heart healthy and brain healthy. The latest research suggests that a diet rich in olive oil and nuts is not only better for heart health and stroke prevention, but also for brain health.
An article published in February of this year in the New England Journal of Medicine followed nearly 7,500 individuals for over 5 years. The participants were divided into three groups. Two groups were advised to follow a Mediterranean diet while one group was advised to follow a low-fat diet. One of the Mediterranean diet groups was told to consume at least four tablespoons of olive oil per day. The other was told to eat 30 grams of nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) every day. There were no limits on how much participants could eat and no exercise requirements. The two groups eating the nuts and olive oil on a daily basis, had significantly fewer strokes and heart attacks. The conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil and nuts is more heart healthy than a low fat diet.
A second article, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry in May of 2012 suggests that the Mediterranean diet, enhanced with extra virgin olive oil or nuts appears to improve cognition compared with a low-fat diet. This study, conducted in Spain, tracked 522 people for 6 1/2 years.
But, for me, these studies do not address the life style factors that I believe also play a key role in the longevity of the people in Le Marche. Daily I see my elderly neighbors (in their mid-80s) tending their garden - pulling weeds, using the hoe to till the soil, picking their olives and grapes in the fall. As I drive my car along the winding and hilly streets, I pass many people who are obviously well beyond Medicare age riding their bicycles to the market or to visit friends. Seeing this always makes me feel guilty that I am not getting that much exercise myself. Walking here is still in style. The elderly and their children and their children's children walk the mile or two to town or in the park or down a country lane to pick the wild asparagus and other wild greens growing in abundance. Here, the lifestyle is not sedentary.
So, if you are looking for a way to get more olive oil and nuts in your diet, why not include them in your desserts. Below are links to several recipes on this site which are rich in nuts and use olive oil rather than butter or other fats.