Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #142

Composed Roasted Beet Salad Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar, Spotlight on Whisks, Speaking More than One Language to Fight Alzheimer’s, and Protecting Against Falls at Every Age

Roasting brings out the flavors of autumn vegetables, making them exceptionally delicious—and the only thing better than drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil is also adding a few drops of rich balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. That’s why I’m so excited to announce my third collection of artisanal vinegars from the T. J. Robinson Curated Culinary Selections and the following recipe so that so well highlights my balsamic vinegar, Condimento Exclusivi Barili.

Also in this issue…If you’re looking for new pastimes as the weather changes, consider learning another language—a study review found that the brain reserves you’ll create could delay the arrival of dementia symptoms. And to protect physical health at every age, get to know simple steps to help prevent falls.

Composed Roasted Beet Salad

  • Composed Roasted Beet Salad Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar Composed Roasted Beet Salad

    This is a great time of year to sample the savory sweetness of yellow beets. Roasting beets intensifies their surprising sweetness, a palate-pleasing contrast to the greens in this recipe. The bold flavors in this salad need just olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress it, but you’ll need to bypass imposters and source true aceto balsamico from Italy—see the Healthy Ingredient Spotlight in my newsletter.

    Ingredients

    • 4 large yellow beets
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use, plus more for drizzling
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar from Modena, plus more for drizzling
    • 4 cups assorted salad greens
    • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
    • 1 ounce chopped hazelnuts

    Directions

    Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Trim the beets but don’t peel them, and cut into quarters. Transfer to the sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until tender, up to one hour. Out of the oven, roll up the beets in the parchment paper and allow them to sit for 10 minutes; this makes it easy to now take off the peels. Toss them with the rest of the olive oil and the tablespoon of vinegar. Divide the greens among four plates and top with equal amounts of beets, cheese shavings, and hazelnuts. Drizzle with more olive oil and vinegar.

    Yields 4 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Authentic Balsamic Vinegar

As those of you who have already been enjoying the vinegars of the T. J. Robinson Curated Culinary Selections know, after years of requests from members of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, I made it my mission to source the best artisanal vinegars on the planet. That meant distinguishing true aceto balsamico or balsamic vinegar from its many pretenders.

With so many bottles on store shelves labeled “balsamic,” it’s important to know how to choose correctly. First and foremost, the vinegar must be completely crafted in Modena, a city within the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, according to exacting, centuries-old standards enforced by the local consortiums. Anything else is, quite simply, not balsamic vinegar. Beyond this, the ultimate quality of a Modena balsamic depends on the skill of the producer, including knowing what wood to pick for each period of aging.

When in Italy, I always look forward to walking through the pristine olive groves at Acetomodena, the producer of my collection’s balsamic vinegar.

A few different types of balsamic vinegars are available within the strict guidelines. There is Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or Protected Origin Denomination), which can take generations to make and is wildly expensive. That’s because it’s crafted exclusively from cooked grape must—all parts of the grapes are used—and aged for a minimum of 12 years and sometimes 25 years or even longer. A few ounces cost well over a hundred dollars, so it’s not used for cooking or making vinaigrettes but for drizzling sparingly on foods as a finishing touch.

The next is Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta or protected geographical indication). It must be made from grape must and wine vinegar only and aged in wooden barrels for at least two months, but can be aged for as long as three years, which allows it to get sweeter and more harmonious as it achieves the perfect ratio of density to acidity. Many companies take the industrial route, rapidly boiling down the grape must, which often imparts the taste of burnt toast, and aging for the bare minimum.

Choosing the best vinegars for you can be as complex as choosing the best fresh-pressed olive oil. I love working with Gary Paton of Società Agricola Acetomodena in Modena and tasting just how nuanced “balsamic vinegar” can be, depending on the aging process.

The Acetomodena balsamic in my collection is a special IGP vinegar called Condimento Barili Exclusivi. The “condiment” designation allows producers more freedom to craft a vinegar that goes beyond strict IGP requirements with a taste akin to that of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale—it has the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness from grape must, and woodiness from the barrel aging.

Why you should have this vinegar in your kitchen: A pure balsamic vinegar, sweet and thick, is a culinary essential. It adds the perfect finish to cheeses, salads, grilled foods from vegetables to meat, and even desserts, like strawberries and figs.

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Whisks Aplenty

Having a few well-made whisks makes important cooking prep steps nearly effortless. But with so many sizes—and shapes—available, how do you know which ones you really need?

Start with a French whisk, long and narrow with numerous loops of wire, or tines, great for beating eggs and making egg-based sauces, custards, and curds. Add a balloon whisk, an overall large whisk that balloons to more of a ball shape at the end, for combining large volumes of dry or wet ingredients and whipping cream and egg whites if you don’t have a stand or hand mixer. Balloon whisks typically have fewer loops than smaller whisks so that ingredients don’t get caught in them. A very small mini-whisk is ideal for beating small quantities of vinaigrette, a single egg, or cocoa and milk for a cup of hot chocolate. There are more exotic shapes you can buy, like a flat whisk for reaching all around a saucepan and a coiled whisk (with a small oval of coiled wire at the end), if you’re an equipment lover.

Most important is whisk construction. Cheaply made whisks fail early on—the wires pop out of the handle or they just don’t have enough loops to be effective. Look for whisks made of high-quality, dishwasher-safe stainless steel. To avoid scratching nonstick saucepans, you’ll also want whisks made of silicone—just keep in mind that they’re more fragile and tend to require more arm work on your part.

For Your Best Health: Imperfect calorie counting may be good enough

For Your Best Health

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Or Italian, French, or Spanish? Today may be a great day to start! A new review conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined the numerous and often conflicting studies on whether regularly speaking two or more languages can help fight Alzheimer’s.

According to the review’s results, being bi- or multi-lingual does increase the brain’s cognitive reserve, a protective effect thought to stem from the executive control involved in managing multiple languages. The review acknowledged that findings in the various studies reviewed were not consistent when it came to factors like the age at which people should start learning another language, how proficient they need to be in it, or how often they need to use it. There also isn’t hard evidence that it can prevent Alzheimer’s, but most did find that the increased cognitive capacity and resilience of the brain’s frontal lobe from learning languages can delay the emergence of dementia symptoms by about 4 to 5 years. And that delay has a potentially significant impact on the course of the disease for those who get it. Another positive is that learning a new language can be fun in the here and now, especially with easy-to-access programs like Duolingo and Babbel, which have apps for your smartphone and free trials.

Fitness Flash: Exercise: Exercising to Burn Fat

Fitness Flash

Protecting Against Falls At Every Age

We face not only mental but also physical perils as we age, and one of the most devastating can be a fall that breaks a bone, especially a hip. UNLV assistant professor, physical therapist, and board-certified neurological clinical specialist Jennifer Nash, DPT, CNS, explains it’s hard to recover from a hip fracture, and afterward, many people are unable to live on their own. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. Women account for three-quarters of all hip fractures, often because of osteoporosis, which weakens bones and makes them more likely to break. Recovery from a broken hip can be grueling. It can land you in the hospital for a week and possibly a care facility afterward to continue healing.

During recovery, every activity of daily living, including any exercise, can be painful. That pain can create a vicious cycle when it comes to physical inactivity: The less you do, the less you will be able to do. Decreased activity leads to decreased strength and function, which leads to deconditioning, increased fear of activity, and decreased quality of life. This can all lead to even greater inactivity, Dr. Nash points out.

The answer is to do your best to prevent a fall in the first place with a plan based on guidelines from the National Council on Aging:

Participate in a good balance and exercise program. Try a community exercise program or get started on an individualized program with the help of a physical therapist.

Check in with your healthcare provider. Review any medications you’re taking for side effects that include dizziness. In fact, if different specialists have prescribed different medications for you, ask your primary care doctor or pharmacist to review them all for negative interactions. Have your blood pressure checked—some people experience dizziness from a blood pressure drop when they stand up from seated exercises or just from being in a chair.

Have your vision and hearing checked annually. Three components make up the body’s balance system: vision, proprioception (the ability to sense where you are with your feet), and the vestibular system (the inner ear). Dr. Nash says hearing is important for your balance. If you can’t hear someone coming up behind you, you might get startled and trip. Or maybe you can’t hear someone warning you about an uneven surface, which could lead to a fall. At a certain age, she says that, compared to single-focus lenses, bi-focal or tri-focal lenses can be problematic because they can lead you to look through the reading lens to climb stairs or uneven surfaces, and that can create depth-perception issues.

Create a safe home environment. Remove any and all tripping hazards like loose cords and clutter along the floor, even throw rugs. Improve your lighting, especially on stairs, which should have at least one railing. Add grab bars in key areas like the shower and near the toilet. Make sure there’s a night light on the path to the bathroom to lessen the chance of falling if you wake up in the middle of the night to go.

And if you ever do experience a fall and hit your head, call your doctor right away and ask about getting evaluated for a traumatic brain injury or TBI. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

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Dementia: Olive oil could help protect brain health, according to new study

Adapted from the original research and an article by Robby Berman in Medical News Today, August 2, 2023

Consuming half a tablespoon of olive oil per day could substantially lower your risk of dying from dementia, a new study shows.

According to a presentation on July 24 at the NUTRITION 2023 conference in Boston, the study found that people who consumed half a tablespoon or more of olive oil daily had a 25% reduced risk of dying from dementia compared to people who did not consume olive oil.

What’s more, higher olive oil intake was linked to greater brain benefits. “We found a clear linear dose-response association between higher daily olive oil intake and lower risk of fatal dementia,” said presenter Anne-Julie Tessier, RD (registered dietician), PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

This US-based study is the first to investigate the relationship between diet and dementia-related death. The investigators analyzed the health records from 1990 to 2018 of more than 90,000 people in the US who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. During the study’s 28 years of follow-up, 4,749 participants died from dementia.

Replacing even a single teaspoon of margarine or commercial mayonnaise with olive oil was also associated with a 5-12% reduced risk of dying from dementia, according to the research team. These benefits were not seen with other vegetable oils.

The link between higher olive oil intake and lower risk of dying of dementia was observed regardless of the overall quality of people’s diets. This may indicate that components of olive oil provide unique benefits for brain health.

“Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain,” said Dr. Tessier. “It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.” She noted that only a few individuals in the study consumed more than 15 mg (about 1 tablespoon) of olive oil daily.

A body of previous research has established an association between olive oil intake and a lower risk of heart disease, and incorporating olive oil as part of the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to help protect against cognitive decline.

Dr. Tessier reflected on the characteristics of olive oil that may confer its effects on the brain: “Olive oil may play a beneficial role in cognitive health through its rich content in monounsaturated fatty acids, which may promote neurogenesis [growth of brain cells]. It also contains vitamin E and polyphenols that have antioxidant activity.”

The research team advised that an observational study such as this is only able to identify an association and does not prove that olive oil is the cause of the reduced risk of dying from dementia. Randomized, controlled trials are needed to confirm the study’s findings and to help establish the optimal quantity of olive oil to consume in order to experience the most benefits.

Reference: Tessier JA, Yuan C, Cortese M, et al. Olive oil and fatal dementia risk in two large prospective US cohort studies. Poster presented at NUTRITION 2023 conference, Fairfax, VA, July 24, 2023.

The Olive Oil Hunter News #139

Baked “Fried Zucchini” Recipe, For Your Best Health: The Benefits of Olive Oil and Alzheimer’s

It’s hard to escape all the talk about artificial intelligence (AI), and it has its proponents and its detractors, but a recent study showed how it can be a superhighway to important health advances. A group of international scientists used it to suss out which phytochemicals, specifically types of polyphenols, contribute to one of the most important benefits of olive oil: fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Though early in the game, the research is welcome news. One thing that there’s no question about is the exquisite taste of fresh-pressed olive oil (a sign of high polyphenol content), and this recipe for baked “fried zucchini” is a wonderful way to enjoy it. 

Baked “Fried Zucchini”

  • Baked Fried Zucchini Baked “Fried Zucchini”

    Traditional friend zucchini is such a popular appetizer, especially when dipped in zesty tomato sauce, but it’s almost always more breading and bland oil than a healthful way to eat your vegetables. My baked version offers all the taste you’re looking for in a way that elevates the zucs. For a quick and easy homemade sauce, see The Oil Olive Hunter Newsletter #137

    Ingredients

    • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, more as needed
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese
    • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

    Directions

    Step 1

    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the zucchini slices and olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat well.

    Step 2

    Set up three shallow bowls or pie plates. Put the flour in one, whisk the eggs in another, and in the third, stir together the cheese, panko, basil, salt, and pepper. One at a time, dust the zucchini slices with flour, dip them in the egg, then in the cheese mixture, and place them on the sheet pan. 

    Step 3

    Bake until the coating turns brown and crispy, for 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  

    Yields 4 servings

Best Health: The Mediterranean Diet: Reversing Metabolic Syndrome After Heart Disease

For Your Best Health

The Benefits of Olive Oil and Alzheimer’s

The Study: “Alzheimer’s disease: using gene/protein network machine learning for molecule discovery in olive oil,” Human Genomics, July 2023.

The Summary: An international group of researchers, including scientists from Yale and Temple universities, used artificial intelligence to uncover the promising potential of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in combating Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

EVOO’s neuroprotective effects have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. The Mediterranean diet, rich in EVOO, has been associated with a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline. To go the next step, this research team was able to create a unique algorithm by integrating AI, chemistry, and omics (an emerging multidisciplinary field that includes genomics and epigenomics) to identify which specific bioactive compounds in EVOO could contribute to the treatment and prevention of AD and analyze how they interact with the complex pathways involved in AD. Most interesting, they did this by comparing them to the actions of FDA-approved drugs for AD. 

The study adds to the growing evidence that the Mediterranean diet, rich in EVOO, supports brain health, mitigates dementia and cognitive decline, and can potentially provide a basis for consideration in future clinical studies to treat not only Alzheimer’s but other chronic conditions as well.

From the Abstract: “Previous studies suggest that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) may be helpful in preventing cognitive decline. Here, we present a network machine learning method for identifying bioactive phytochemicals in EVOO with the highest potential to impact the protein network linked to the development and progression of the AD…The calibrated machine learning algorithm was used to predict the likelihood of existing drugs and known EVOO phytochemicals to be similar in action to the drugs impacting AD protein networks. These analyses identified the following ten EVOO phytochemicals with the highest likelihood of being active against AD: quercetin, genistein, luteolin, palmitoleate, stearic acid, apigenin, epicatechin, kaempferol, squalene, and daidzein (in the order from the highest to the lowest likelihood).” 

From the Study’s Results: “Our model allowed us to predict with 70.3% ± 2.6% accuracy which previously FDA-approved drugs were in phase 3 and 4 trials for AD specifically versus all other FDA-approved drugs not in AD trials. The resulting 64 models were used for scoring the EVOO phytochemicals; the probabilities of these phytochemicals predicted to be similar to the drugs in FDA phase 3 and 4 trials were then averaged to produce the final consensus prediction. EVOO phytochemicals with the highest probability of being like compounds in FDA trials were considered most likely to be biologically active.”

From the Study’s Conclusion: “It is well known that diet and lifestyle influence health. Machine learning is a novel, cost-effective way to evaluate the potential health benefits of individual EVOO phytochemicals. The present study provides an approach that brings together artificial intelligence, analytical chemistry, and omics studies to explore the interactions of phytochemicals with pathways involved in a disease state, information that can lead to the identification of novel therapeutic entities in a natural product (that contains a heterogeneous mixture of phytochemicals). The analyses identified several individual EVOO phytochemicals that have a high likelihood of interfering with AD, a few of which (e.g., quercetin, genistein) have shown promising effects on AD pathogenesis. Others (e.g., luteolin) are worthy of further in vitro and in vivo study. It is only through the conduct of such studies [that] the predictive utility of our machine learning approach [will] be validated. While the results of the present study shed light on how EVOO may help treat or prevent AD, the same approach may be applied to identify EVOO phytochemicals (or other food constituents) that treat other diseases, such as hypertension or dyslipidemia.”

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The Olive Oil Hunter News #138

Very Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe, Spotlight on EVOO, Better Cupcake Liners, The Right Video Games for Brain Power Based on Your Age, and More Reasons to Exercise

As the saying goes, good things come in small packages, and these cupcakes are a perfect example. They’re simple to make and delicious to eat! Munch on one as you read about two new and important studies. The first is how to train your brain with video games—it all comes down to your age! And the other offers good advice for all ages: Exercise to avoid atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia and one that greatly increases the risk for stroke.

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Vanilla Cupcakes Very Vanilla Cupcakes

    These cupcakes are heady with a double dose of vanilla … in the sweet vanilla cake and the rich and creamy frosting, enhanced with just a hint of almond extract. Use a small offset spatula to mound the frosting in a cone shape, or use a pastry bag and small star tip for a fanciful effect. Either way, they’re luscious!

    Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:

    • 2 cups pastry flour 
    • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour 
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 extra-large eggs 
    • 3/4 cup sugar 
    • 1 cup Greek yogurt 
    • 1/2 cup almond milk
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla or the seeds of a vanilla bean

    For the frosting:

    • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature 
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup milk, your choice of dairy or non-dairy
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, more as needed

    Directions

    Step 1

    For the cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 375°F. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add all the wet ingredients and whisk thoroughly again until the flour is fully incorporated. Use a large ice cream scoop to fill a 12-cup muffin tin. Bake until the tip of a sharp knife inserted in two or three of cupcakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let them cool completely.

    Step 2

    While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the mascarpone, olive oil, milk, and extracts until smooth. Beat in the sugar, a cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency, adding more in 1/4 cup increments if needed. Chill briefly.

    Step 3

    When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread on the frosting.

    Yields 12 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Reach for EVOO Instead of Butter

Who doesn’t love a cupcake? And when you replace butter with extra virgin olive oil, you can indulge without the guilt. While it takes experimentation with EVOO to get the mouthfeel of butter when a recipe involves creaming it, you won’t notice the difference when melted butter is called for. And, of course, swapping olive oil anytime a vegetable oil is called for is a no-brainer!

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Cupcake Liners

Besides conserving your olive oil for recipes themselves, I like to use tall paper liners instead of coating your muffin tin cups with EVOO. Often called tulip liners because of their shape, they let you not only avoid spillovers but also mound your batter above the tin’s natural rim, so you can bake taller cupcakes (and muffins) in a regular-size pan. I also prefer tulip liners to the traditional short, fluted ones for the same reasons … and because they’re more festive. Look for those made of unbleached parchment paper.

For Your Best Health: Imperfect calorie counting may be good enough

For Your Best Health

The Right Video Games for Brain Power Vary with Your Age

As we age, our mental abilities tend to decrease, particularly the ability to remember a number of new things at once, otherwise known as our working memory—it’s thought to peak between the ages of 20 and 30. Research has shown that the way we hold information in the brain changes as we get older, and this prompted scientists at the University of York in the UK to look at whether the impacts of particular types of mental stimulation, such as gaming, also had altered effects, depending on age. The study included older and younger adults playing the same digital games that they do on their own. This resulted in a wide range of games that were tested alongside a digital experiment that required participants to memorize images while being distracted.

Fiona McNab, PhD, of York’s Department of Psychology, says: “A lot of research has focused on action games, as it is thought that reacting quickly, keeping track of targets, and so on helps attention and memory, but our new analysis shows that the action elements do not seem to offer significant benefits to younger adults. It instead seems to be the strategy elements of the games—planning and problem solving, for example—that stimulate better memory and attention in young people. We don’t see this same effect in older adults, however, and more research is needed to understand why this is. We can’t yet rule out that the strategy games played by older people are not as difficult as the games played by younger people and that the level of challenge might be important in memory improvement.”

When it came to brain boosts for adults ages 60 and over, the researchers found that those who played digital puzzle games showed the same memory abilities as people in their 20s and a greater ability to ignore irrelevant distractions, but older adults who played strategy games did not show the same improvements in memory or concentration as their younger counterparts.

Joe Cutting, PhD, of York’s Department of Computer Science, details: “Generally people have a good ability to ignore irrelevant distractions, something we call ‘encoding distraction.’ We would expect for example that a person could memorize the name of a street [while] being distracted by a child or a dog, but this ability does decline as we age. Puzzle games for older people had this surprising ability to support mental capabilities to the extent that memory and concentration levels were the same as a 20-year-old’s who had not played puzzle games.”

Older people who only played strategy games were more likely to forget elements committed to memory while being distracted whereas young people were less successful at focusing attention if they played only puzzle games.

The researchers suggest future studies look at why there is a difference between impacts of types of games depending on the age of a player and whether this is connected to how the brain stores information as people age.

The study, “Higher working memory capacity and distraction-resistance associated with strategy (not action) game playing in younger adults, but puzzle game playing in older adults,” was published in the journal Heliyon.

Fitness Flash: Exercise: Exercising to Burn Fat

Fitness Flash

More Reasons to Exercise

According to research done at the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taipei, Taiwan, and presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2023, physical fitness is linked with a lower likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation and stroke. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting more than 40 million people worldwide, and having it increases the risk of stroke fivefold.  

The study included 15,450 people without atrial fibrillation who were referred for a treadmill test between 2003 and 2012. The average age was 55 years, and 59% were men. Fitness was assessed using the Bruce protocol, which asks participants to walk faster and at a steeper grade in successive three-minute stages. Fitness was calculated according to the rate of energy expenditure the participants achieved and expressed in metabolic equivalents (METs). Participants were divided into three fitness levels according to METs achieved during the treadmill test: low (less than 8.57 METs), medium (8.57 to 10.72), and high (more than 10.72).

Participants were followed for new-onset atrial fibrillation, stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and death. The researchers analyzed the associations between fitness and atrial fibrillation, stroke, and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE)—a composite of stroke, myocardial infarction, and death—after adjusting for factors that could influence the associations, including age, sex, cholesterol level, kidney function, prior stroke, hypertension, and medications.

During a median of 137 months of follow-up, 515 participants (3.3%) developed atrial fibrillation. Each one MET increase on the treadmill test was associated with an 8% lower risk of atrial fibrillation, 12% lower risk of stroke, and 14% lower risk of MACE.

Says study author Dr. Shih-Hsien Sung, “This was a large study with an objective measurement of fitness and more than 11 years of follow-up. The findings indicate that keeping fit may help prevent atrial fibrillation and stroke.”

Separate research, done at UW Medicine-Kaiser Permanente, found another reason to do all you can to protect against atrial fibrillation: Having it appears to heighten dementia risk. People with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation had a 13% higher risk of developing dementia.

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