The MIND Diet: 10 Foods That Fight Dementia (and 5 to Forget)
Eating a healthy diet is important for all of us.
But if you’re concerned about dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, knowing which foods fight against these is even more important.
Luckily, you’re not the only who feels that way.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center developed the MIND diet. Now you can know for certain what foods fight dementia – and which ones it’s okay to forget.
The MIND Diet Overview
The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, which makes sense because it’s a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
It focuses not only on which foods fight dementia, but also how often you should eat them. Plus, it recognizes that you’re probably going to eat some of the “bad” foods occasionally, so it spells out how often you can slip up without undoing all your hard work.
According to one study of 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98, the people who closely followed the MIND diet had the cognitive function of a person 7.5 years younger. And the even better news was that people in another study who followed the MIND diet “moderately well,” instead of strictly, still had a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Foods of the MIND Diet
The MIND diet focuses on 10 foods that fight dementia:
- Green leafy vegetables – these vegetables specifically are nutrient dense when it comes to the vitamins, like A and C, and minerals your brain needs to stay sharp
- Other vegetables – by filling up on other vegetables in a rainbow of colors, you get the rest of the nutrients your brain needs
- Nuts – the healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber of nuts make them a brain-healthy, as well as heart-healthy, snack
- Berries – berries in general are recommended for overall health, but the MIND diet specifically mentions blueberries and strawberries as foods that fight dementia
- Beans – these high fiber, high protein options are also low in calories and fat, making them a good protein source for the MIND diet
- Whole grains – one of the foundations of the MIND diet, whole grains are vital to keeping your energy up.
- Fish – once again, the healthy fats come into play here, but in a definite move away from the Mediterranean diet, you don’t have to eat this food that fights dementia every day for it to be effective
- Poultry – lean proteins in the form of poultry aren’t just good for your muscles
- Olive oil – according to the MIND diet researchers, people who used olive oil over other cooking oils and fats were better protected cognitively
- Wine – that same glass of wine that helps your heart stay healthy helps your brain stay healthy, too
What Should You Eat and When Should You Eat It?
One of the things that makes the MIND diet so easy to follow is how often you make brain-healthy choices by eating the foods that fight dementia. You don’t have to eat an entire salmon steak every single day, or only eat carbohydrates once a week.
Ideally, every day you should get 3 servings of whole grains, a salad, and another serving of vegetables.. Wash it down with a glass of wine, because that’s on the daily list, too!
Every day to every other day – Try to sprinkle nuts on your salad, or grab a handful for a snack. Switch out a meat protein for beans this often, as well.
2 times per week – Get your chicken, turkey, or other poultry twice a week for maximum results. Work in berries at least 2 times every week – but feel free to have more, especially if you’re munching on blueberries.
1 time per week – If you’re not a seafood lover, you’re in luck because you only need fish once a week on the MIND diet.
Round it out by using olive oil for cooking, salad dressing, and to replace butter. Just like that, you’ve gotten all 10 of the foods that fight dementia into your diet.
5 Foods You Should Limit
As with any healthy diet, though, what you don’t eat is as important as what you do eat – and the MIND diet is no different. For best results, watch your consumption of these 5 foods:
- Red meat – keep it to no more than 4 servings of red meat per week
- Butter – it’s a good thing you can use olive oil, because you should have less than a tablespoon of butter per day
- Cheese – sadly, you should only be eating cheese about once a week in order to protect your brain
- Pastries, sweets, and other desserts – sure, the MIND diet holds you to no more than 5 sweets per week, but you should be watching that for overall health anyway
- Fried foods/fast foods – you can have fried/fast foods up to once a week on the MIND diet – but think hard about having even that much for overall health
The more you can adhere to the MIND diet, the better your chances are of staying mentally sharp and focused for years to come.
But even if you just follow it more often than not, working these foods that fight dementia into your diet gives you a fighting chance.