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Eat to protect your brain

The MIND diet is proven to reduce Alzheimer’s risk and cognitive decline. It also protects your heart health.
Couple having lunch at restaurant

That kale and blueberry smoothie does more than just add pep to your morning. It turns out that berries and leafy greens are two of the 10 most important foods for brain health.

Researchers have identified a healthy combination of foods — called the MIND diet — that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The best part? MIND diet foods are delicious and nutritious, and are good for heart health, too.

More about MIND

The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are well-known, highly recommended diets for heart health. Recently, the components of these two diets have been combined to create a third dietary pattern, known as the MIND diet.

MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s a combination of Mediterranean and DASH diets, with emphasis on foods that have specifically been linked to brain health, like berries and leafy greens.

The top 10

The MIND diet is good for whole body health, but focuses on preventing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. It includes these 10 essential components:

  1. Leafy green vegetables – daily
  2. Other vegetables – daily
  3. Berries – at least twice a week
  4. Nuts – daily
  5. Beans – every other day
  6. Whole grains – three times a day
  7. Seafood – at least once a week
  8. Poultry – at least twice a week
  9. Olive oil – as the main dietary fat
  10. Wine – a glass a day (if you drink alcohol).
What not to eat

Beyond what you eat, the MIND Diet also includes a list of foods to limit:

  1. Red meats – less than four times a week
  2. Butter and stick margarine – less than 1 tablespoon a day
  3. Cheese – less than one serving a week
  4. Pastries and sweets – less than five servings a week
  5. Fried or fast food – less than one serving a week.
Benefits of the MIND diet

The MIND diet research was conducted with a group of older adults over a 4½-year period. The researchers showed that sticking to the MIND diet can reduce the rate of developing Alzheimer’s disease by more than 50 per cent. Even modest adherence to the diet can bring a 35 per cent reduction.

Adults who follow this diet also have a slower overall rate of cognitive decline, which researchers say is equivalent to taking 7½ years off their age. This is due to the nutritious combination of foods that help reduce inflammation and preserve white matter in the brain, which is related to stronger cognitive benefits.

Power in combining foods

The key to the MIND diet lies in the combination of the 10 foods. When eaten together, they provide the right mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats to nourish the brain.
So, your kale salad is a good start, but it needs to be topped with salmon, quinoa, almonds and an olive oil vinaigrette to have real impact.

Here are some MIND diet ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with blueberries and almonds
  • Whole grain toast with hummus and tomato
  • Turkey and spinach hash

Lunch:

  • Tuna cakes on a bed of leafy greens
  • Arugula salad with strawberries and pecans
  • Sweet potato and black bean burritos in corn tortillas

Dinner:

  • Chickpea tomato stew for two
  • Chicken stir-fry on brown rice
  • Garlic shrimp and kale pasta toss

Even if you don’t have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, the MIND diet is a well-balanced eating plan for all ages that anyone can follow for better health — for your brain, heart and overall wellness.