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What Is The MIND Diet?

MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” It was developed in an effort to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A study supported by the National Institute of Aging, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found that this diet reduced the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 53 percent among people who followed it closely and by 35 percent among those who followed it moderately well. These results were published in 2015. Later investigations showed that the MIND diet appears to work better than the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet individually for lowering the risk of cognitive decline.

The MIND was developed by Rush University Medical Center nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris. It emphasizes foods that positively influence brain health, such as whole grains, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, beans and legumes, and seafood. The diet limits or eliminates red and processed meats, added salt, sweet foods and drinks, and refined grains.

Health Benefits of This Diet

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are considered extremely healthy. The former is linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer as well as to improvements in brain function and lower rates of chronic disease and offers protection from Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to helping lower blood pressure, the DASH diet can help reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid. People with high blood levels of homocysteine have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Popularity of The MIND Diet

Although this diet has received much favorable publicity, the extent of its popularity is unknown. The Alzheimer’s Association has featured it on its website. An ongoing three-year study of the MIND diet at Rush University and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will examine its effects on cognitive decline and brain health in a group of 600 participants between the ages of 65 and 84 who have a family history (but no personal history) of dementia, are overweight or obese and have poor eating habits.

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MIND Diet is Ranked:

Principles Of The MIND Dietary Lifestyle

Since there are no treatments to reverse Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, we need strategies to help prevent them. The MIND diet with its focus on the effects of foods on brain health may be one such strategy.

Foods You Can Eat

This diet is very specific about what you can eat from day to day. It requires consuming at least:

  • three servings of whole grains daily
  • six servings of green leafy vegetables per week
  • one daily serving of another vegetable
  • two servings of berries per week
  • one serving of fish per week
  • two servings of poultry per week
  • four servings of beans per week
  • Five servings of nuts per week.

It also requires you to use olive oil as your primary cooking oil, and (if you drink alcohol) one glass of wine daily. Restrictions include less than one pat of butter or margarine daily, less than one ounce of cheese per week, less than 5 servings of pastries or sweets per week, and less than 4 servings of red or processed meats per week.

For more information on MIND Diet and Recipes, check out these popular books ->>> The MIND Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia, The Mind Diet Cookbook

Calorie Count in The MIND Diet

Since this diet isn’t specifically designed for weight loss, it doesn’t specify the number of calories you can consume daily. If you stick to it, however, you probably will consume fewer calories than beforehand since it eliminates processed and fried foods, and limits consumption of sweets and refined carbohydrate foods.

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Experts’ Views

Although research to date does suggest that the MIND diet can benefit the brain and prevent dementia, evidence from the ongoing study mentioned above will be a better indication of its effectiveness. Given that both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet on which the MIND diet is based are viewed as among the best eating plans for overall health, doctors are unlikely to view the MIND diet negatively.

Remarks On The MIND Diet:

Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are among the world’s healthiest ways to eat. Alzheimer’s disease is linked to diets high in animal protein and low in fruits and leafy vegetables which are emphasized by the MIND diet. For people who may be at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the MIND diet is a reasonable strategy and a good bet.

Martha Clare Morris et al, “MIND diet slows cognitive decline with ageing,” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, September 2015,

DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2015.04.011