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Daily Archives: August 11, 2016

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Turkey & Balsamic Onion Quesadillas

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Turkey & Balsamic Onion Quesadillas Recipe
Turkey & Balsamic Onion Quesadillas
Not your traditional quesadilla, these feature deli turkey and Cheddar cheese, along with onions quickly marinated in balsamic vinegar. Serve with sauteed vegetables or a tossed salad for a quick meal.

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What Your View of the Olympics Says About Your Personality

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Who do you think should be the real winner of the Olympic Games: the country with the most gold medals, or the country with the most medals overall? How you answer that question may provide a clue about how happy you are, says a new study.

Happy people value silver and bronze medals more than unhappy people, say researchers from the Center for Happiness Studies at the University of Seoul in South Korea. Because of that, they tend to celebrate second and third place finishers more—and to prefer the “total-medal method” for ranking countries in the Olympics, rather than the “gold-first method.”

This makes sense, say the study authors, since previous research has shown that happy people tend to appreciate and find joy in the “little things” in life. But since there hasn’t been much research about how happy and unhappy people value societal events (as opposed to personal events), they wanted to test their hypothesis—using the Olympics as a theoretical scenario.

The researchers recruited South Korean and American participants, and gave them questionnaires to determine their overall self-perceived happiness. Then they asked them about Olympic medals: In one experiment, the South Korean group was asked about how countries’ medal counts should be ranked (gold only versus all medals). In two additional experiments, both groups were asked how many silver and bronze medals they thought equalled one gold medal.

In the first experiment, people with higher happiness scores were more likely to favor the total-medal method for country rankings, while those who scored lower tended to think that gold medals should be the deciding factor.

In the second two experiments, participants who scored higher on the happiness scale also tended to give more weight to silver and bronze medals. This pattern existed in both groups, suggesting that the association between happiness and medal preference is the same across different cultures.

On average, study participants who saw themselves as happy estimated that it would take 2.68 silver medals to equal a gold one. Self-perceived unhappy people, on the other hand, though it would take 4.14.

The study couldn’t show why happy people appreciate bronze and silver medals more, but the researchers have a theory. Previous studies have shown that happy people tend to group things together, they say—and this is just another example of that.

“This finding implies that happy people, compared to unhappy people, tend to group gold, silver, and bronze medals together into an inclusive category (‘achievement’) and treat them equally,” they wrote in the study. “Conversely, unhappy individuals might discriminate among the medals more and group them separately into three hierarchically distinct categories of gold, silver, and bronze medals.”

The study, which will be published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and was posted early online, looked at happiness and medal valuation from a spectator perspective.

Previous research that’s looked at happiness from an athlete perspective suggests another interesting pattern: Olympians who win bronze medals tend to seem happier than those who win silver, they say. After all, the second-place finisher just narrowly missed the top spot, while the person in third place is happy to be on the podium at all.


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Mediterranean Diet Boosts Memory and Keeps Brain Young, Study Finds

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You know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your heart. Now, research confirms that it’s also good for your brain. In a new review of previous studies, following the plant-heavy meal plan was associated with better memory and less cognitive decline. The benefits weren’t just exclusive to seniors, either; in the two included studies that looked at young adults, cognitive scores improved in people 19 to 40, as well. 

The review, in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, included 18 papers published between 2000 and 2015 that looked at the effect of the Mediterranean diet on cognitive processes over time. All together, the findings were impressive: Thirteen of the studies found some association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and brain benefits, including slower rates of decline and improvement in memory and recall.

Some studies also linked the diet to improved attention and language skills, or found that its followers were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Protect Your Memory

The most surprising result, says lead study author Roy Hardman, is that these positive effects were seen in people from all around the world. (The studies took place in the United States, France, Spain, Sweden, and Australia.) 

“Regardless of being located outside of what is considered the Mediterranean region, the positive cognitive effects of a higher adherence to a MedDiet were similar in all evaluated papers," Hardman, a PhD candidate at the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, said in a press release.

The diet’s health benefits are likely due to a combination of several factors, says Hardman. For example, it has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve vitamin and mineral imbalances, lower cholesterol, and boost metabolism. Some research suggests it may also be good for your gut, reduce fracture risk in old age, and even slow aging on a cellular level.

In other words, Hardman says, “the MedDiet offers the opportunity to change some of the modifiable risk factors” for cognitive decline, as well as other chronic diseases.

The study authors characterize the Mediterranean diet’s key components as “abundant consumption of plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes.” The diet also includes small amounts of dairy and minimal red meat, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.

RELATED: 22 Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Of course, the idea that a plant-based, minimal-meat meal plan is good for the mind is not new, says Keith Fargo, PhD, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer's Association. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association has recommended the Mediterranean diet (along with another whole foods-based eating plan, the DASH Diet) for years.

"In recent years, there has been growing scientific support for the concept that lifestyle factors that are good for your heart are also good for your brain,” Fargo says. “Eating right and regular physical activity appear to be particularly important."

Maintaining an overall healthy diet is probably more important than the impact of a few specific vitamins or foods, Fargo adds. And a growing body of research—including Hardman’s new study—support the idea that a Mediterranean diet is one way to do that.

RELATED: 17 Ways to Age-Proof Your Brain

While it’s important to recognize that diet is frequently associated with other factors that may impact cognition in aging, Fargo says—such as smoking, education levels, and socioeconomic status—he does believe that there is “sufficiently strong evidence to conclude that a healthy diet may reduce the risk of cognitive decline.”

Hardman is sold on the idea, as well. "I follow the diet patterns and do not eat any red meats, chicken, or pork,” he says. “I have fish two to three times per week and adhere to a Mediterranean style of eating.”