Today’s Headlines: Why Eating Fat is Not Always Bad, Different Ways to Boost Your Memory, and How Coffee May Improve Your Workout

Eating foods high in healthy fats won’t make you gain weight. Regardless of their calorie count, researchers have found that fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil in the Mediterranean diet are beneficial. “People who were put on a Mediterranean diet without any calorie restrictions for five years lost slightly more weight than people put on a low-fat diet for the same amount of time…more than 10% of heart deaths were traced to eating too few plant oils, like those that are plentiful in a Mediterranean diet. In another study by the same authors of that analysis, people who drank full-fat milk had a 46% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who chose skim.” Overall, people on the Mediterranean diet tended to eat more healthy foods such as produce and fish. (Time)

There are four activities that might strengthen your mind. A few different research studies showed that activities such as doodling, practicing yoga, running barefoot, and spending time in nature may help improve memory. “If you were one of those students who was more likely to doodle in the margins of your notebooks than write words in them, you may have been onto something… Those who chose the drawing route remembered about twice as many words as those who wrote them down.” In another study, “Both groups showed statistically similar improvement in verbal memory, but the yoga group also showed an improvement in visual-spatial memory (where you left your keys, for example) as well as in signs of depression and anxiety.” A separate study found that “…barefoot runners who were told to hit these targets showed a roughly 16 percent improvement in working memory… this effect may result from the combination of the increased blood flow that running produces and the forced focus that comes from hitting targets.” And finally, a fourth study reported on the benefits of the outdoors: “…people who stepped outside into a natural or parklike environment showed improvement across a host of cognitive functions — including memory — compared with those who were stuck in a city.” (Washington Post)

Drinking coffee before an early workout may improve your overall performance. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it may help your body function more efficiently. “‘Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system, the heart, and possibly the ‘center’ that controls blood pressure,’ all of which play a vital role in helping your mind and body push harder in a workout… Plus, researchers found that when people caffeinated before a workout, they ate 72 fewer calories later in the day and had an easier time keeping cravings in check.” The researchers advised that people who work out in the morning supplement their coffee with water to help them stay hydrated. Additionally, people who exercise at night should not drink coffee near bed time, even if it is before a workout. Find out more about the pros and cons of drinking coffee. (CNN)