The MIND Diet
By: Beth Bluestone, RD • Posted on November 18, 2016
Beth Bluestone, dieticiain and nutrition expert, discusses the Mind Diet: Eating Right to Keep you Mentally Sharp!
Nourishing Bodies and Minds with Healthy Food
The food we choose can affect not only our bodies, but also our minds. With dementia, Alzheimer's disease and mental decline being a growing concern for the aging population, it's important to choose the right foods that will nourish our brains and keep us sharp. A diet rich in the following foods could be the answer to healthy aging:
- whole grains
Newly published research from Rush University shows that following a specific dietary pattern may be the key to preventing cognitive decline.
The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a combination of two well-studied dietary approaches, the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), with some modifications. The researchers found those who followed the MIND diet closely had 53 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and those who moderately followed the diet had 35 percent reduced risk.
3 Components of the MIND Diet
The MIND diet is easy to follow as it has only three components:
- 15 dietary components
- 10 food groups for brain health
- 5 unhealthy food groups
Top 10 foods that fuel your brain
The foods that are best for brain functions and memory are rich in antioxidants like vitamin E and contain a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They also include plenty of B vitamins, folate, vitamin C, and D.
The following is a list of 10 foods and proper serving amounts to help fuel your brain:
- Green leafy vegetables: one salad daily or another green leafy vegetable like spinach, kale, collards, romaine
- Other vegetables: at least one serving per day
- Nuts: one serving (1/4 cup or a handful a day)
- Berries: in particular blueberries and strawberries at least two servings per week
- Beans: every other day or 3-4 servings a week
- Whole grains: three servings daily
- Fish: at least once per week
- Poultry: at least two servings a week
- Olive oil: the primary oil
- Wine: one glass per day if you drink wine, don't start if you don't drink alcohol currently
5 unhealthy foods for the brain
These harmful foods are mostly comprised of saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Some research has shown that a diet that is comprised of foods high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, so these foods should be limited. Additionally, decreasing consumption of these foods improves your cardiovascular health.
- Red meat: consume rarely
- Butter and margarine: less than 1 tablespoon per day
- Cheese: one serving or less per week
- Pastries and sweets: limit
- Fried or fast food: less than one serving per week
Putting the MIND Diet in Action
For many people the MIND diet can be fairly easy to follow. The MIND diet encourages the consumption of whole foods, eating more vegetables and fruit, whole grains and cutting back on processed foods, sugar, saturated and trans fatty acids.
MIND Diet Tips
- Sauté vegetables in olive oil vs butter.
- Top your salad with beans like black beans, garbanzo beans or kidney beans.
- Use lean ground turkey or chicken in replace of ground beef.
- Snack on unsalted walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
- Choose fruit or berries for dessert instead of cookies or ice cream.
- Try a new vegetable each week and experiment with different vegetables.
One Day MIND Diet Sample Menu
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, bell pepper and mushrooms with a slice of 100% whole wheat toast topped with slices of avocado
- Lunch: Salad with chickpeas, blueberries, slivered almonds and grilled or roasted vegetables with a balsamic vinaigrette
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with asparagus and quinoa
- Snack: 100% whole grain crackers, vegetables and hummus
Color your plate with different vegetables, brighten up your meal with berries and enjoy some wild salmon! Remember, foods that are good for you are also good for your brain.
Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!
-Beth Bluestone, RD
- What We Eat Affects How We Feel
- Foods That Improve Brain Health
- Eating to Sharpen Your Mind: The top foods to increase focus and mental health
- Aging and Cognitive Function