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MIND Diet and Its Core Elements

Updated on November 30, 2016

MIND diet has taken the world of internet by storm. It promises to drastically reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and potentially help lose weight. This is backed by science. MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.

Developed by the researchers at Rush University Medical Centre, Chicago, MIND diet stands for the Mediterranean – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. The researchers have found that it may cut people’s risk for Alzheimer’s by an average of whopping 53%. MIND diet has some specific advantages that can make it more likely to be followed. They are as follows:

  • The guidelines of MIND diet are quite loose, giving one much wiggle room to eat food one loves. Even after fudging the rules a few times, one may still be able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35%. It has been found that the longer the person follows it, the lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Genetics and other factors like smoking, exercise and education also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. But the MIND diet helps slow the rate of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s regardless of other risk factors.
  • MIND diet is easier to follow than Mediterranean and DASH diets, in which high consumption of all fruits is recommended. On the other hand, MIND diet focuses specifically on berries – blueberries and strawberries.

Foods to eat -

The MIND diet identifies 10 brain friendly foods, which it requires them to be consumed. They are:

  1. Green leafy vegetables – one salad daily
  2. Other vegetables – one serving daily
  3. Nuts – one serving daily
  4. Berries – two or more servings a week, blueberries and strawberries preferred
  5. Beans – three four servings a week
  6. Whole grains – three servings daily
  7. Fish – one or more servings a week
  8. Poultry – at least two servings a week
  9. Olive oil – this should be your primary oil
  10. Wine – one glass per day

Foods to avoid -

It also identifies 5 foods to be avoided. They are:

  1. Red meats – eat rarely
  2. Butter – eat no more that a tablespoon a day; never eat margarine
  3. Cheese - one serving or less per week
  4. Pastries and sweets – less than five servings a week, preferably avoid them totally
  5. Fried or fast food – less than one serving per week

How does it work? -

A diet that supports vascular health is certainly protective against vascular dementia. Certain foods and food components have been directly linked to improved neurological function by slowing cognitive decline, and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

Dietary vitamin E, which is found in nuts, plant oils, seeds, and leafy greens, is a very potent antioxidant associated strongly with brain health. Vegetables have been specifically found to be important for reducing cognitive decline.

Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, studies show, are important for synaptic proteins in the brain. Omega-3s (DHA in particular) are among the more important lipid structures in the brain. They lead to higher synaptic transmission and lessen oxidative stress.

A diet that includes plenty of B vitamins such as folate, and vitamins C and D, all of which have been found in multiple analyses of randomized controlled studies to help neurons cope with aging.

Berries like strawberries and blueberries have been shown to decrease neuron loss and improve memory performance.

High saturated or trans fatty acids increase the risk of dementia and high polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids decrease the risk. Avoiding fried foods, pastries, full-fat dairy and large amounts of red meat, and eating foods such as fish, nuts, and plant oils such as olive oil provides a right balance of fats.

As a matter of fact, all the food items included in the MNID diet provide essential nutrients that support brain health, whereas the food items that are to be avoided further boosts its effects.

The bottom line –

Following a healthy diet is not a short-term strategy; it has to be permanent lifestyle change. Most people do best by tackling one or two small achievable goals at a time. Following an ideal eating plan is a circumspect behavior for neurological and cardiovascular health, which is all the more significant for older people. Following MIND diet can positively affect not only the geriatric patients' neurological health but also their overall health and well-being.

Even if one doesn’t have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other risk factors, one may still want to try this eating plan because it focuses on nutritious whole foods. In actual fact, MIND diet is good for people of all age groups in order to derive neurological as well as cardiovascular health benefits.


Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2015 Sep;11(9):1007-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009. Epub 2015 Feb 11.


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