MIND diet is the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It is targeted to improve the health of aging brain. MIND diet prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s disease as it has been found to be linked with slower cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and devastating neurodegenerative disease which causes memory loss and confusion. It affects 6.5 million Americans and is found to be the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As of 2021, Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
There’s a good amount of research evidence supporting the connection between this MIND diet and prevention of Alzheimer’s. However, there is no research linking the MIND diet with the tendency to reverse Alzheimer’s.
What Is the MIND Diet Plan?
MIND is an acronym which stands for the Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay. It is a hybrid of Mediterranean diet and DASH diet. Research suggests that it may reduce the risk of developing dementia or slow down the decline in brain health.
In 2015 study, the nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago referenced past studies on the diet connection and cognitive decline, and then borrowed concepts from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, two plant-based diets, to develop a diet plan with brain-boosting benefits. This is how the MIND diet was born.
The MIND diet is the only diet plan that encourages the consumption of foods which have been found to promote cognitive health.
How Does the MIND Diet improve cognitive function?
The MIND diet is focuses on the intake of plant-based foods, and on limiting the intake of animal products and also foods high in saturated fat. The emphasis is on more of plant food, and this diet specifically urges a higher consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables.
Fueling up with flavonoid-rich foods can benefit the mind. Blueberries strawberries, and blackberries have been found to prevent cognitive aging in women by up to 2.5 years, according to a 2012 study. A 2022 review of 11 studies also concluded that there is a link between berry-based supplements and cognitive health.
Similarly, there seems to be a link between the intake of leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach and collard greens and slower cognitive decline associated with aging, according to a 2018 study. This could be due to an association between eating leafy greens and less inflammation and oxidative stress, two factors that are majorly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, as per a 2010 study. Both berries and leafy greens are antioxidant rich and can help reduce both inflammation and oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when antioxidant levels are low and the body cannot fight well with the toxic molecules called free radicals. This stress causes cell damage in brain and throughout the body, and it has been linked to several diseases, including both Alzheimer’s and cancer.
A MIND Diet Food List With the Best and Worst Foods
To help improve your cognition, you’ll need to reach for and avoid the following foods:
MIND Diet foods
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries): a minimum 2 servings a week
- Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce): a minimum 6 servings in week
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios): a minimum 5 servings a week
- Beans (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans): a minimum 3 servings a week
- Whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain pasta and bread): a minimum 3 servings a day
- Fish (salmon, tuna, trout): a minimum 1 serving a week
- Poultry (chicken, turkey): a minimum twice a week
- Olive oil should be the primary oil
- Wine: not more than 1 glass a day
Foods to Limit
- Butter and margarine: not more than 1 tablespoon daily
- Cheese (mozzarella, or cheddar): not more than 1 serving a week
- Sweets (cakes, brownies, ice cream): not more than 5 servings a week
- Fried or fast food (French fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, fried chicken, hamburgers): not more than 1 serving a week
- Red meat (steak, ground beef, pork, lamb): not more than 4 servings a week