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The MIND Diet

This is a combination of two diets that have well-known health benefits -- Mediterranean and DASH. It's designed to prevent or slow brain decline. Early studies show that it lowers risk of Alzheimer's by 53% in those who follow it closely and by 35% in those who follow more loosely. (The name is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.) The recommendation was originally intended for healthy older adults, but in 2018 it was expanded to also apply to octogenarians who have had a stroke. 

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composite image of healthy food in shape of brain
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Brain-Healthy Food Groups

The MIND diet has 10 groups: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. You have to love a diet that has wine as a food group.

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bean soup with bread
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The diet calls for beans every other day, poultry twice a week, and fish once a week. Or make bean-and-turkey chili to eat for a few days. All these foods are high in protein and low in saturated fats, making them good for your overall health as well as for your brain health.

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salad and breadsticks
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Vegetables and Grains

You'll need a salad, one other vegetable, and three servings of whole grains every day. Any vegetable will do, but collard greens, kale, and spinach are especially good. Though there's little research on brain function and grains, part of the science behind the MIND diet may include how the foods work together. Researchers are still trying to figure out why it works so well.

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Nuts and berries are ideal snacks -- both have been linked to better brain health. Blueberries and strawberries, in particular, help keep your brain working at its best and may slow symptoms linked to Alzheimer's.

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Wine has been shown to improve brain health and help protect against Alzheimer's in several studies. But the key is moderation. Typically, that's one glass a day for women and two for men. More than that can have bad effects on brain health and may make you more likely to get dementia.

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olive oil drizzled on bread
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Olive Oil

It's delicious on bread, salad, pasta, cooked greens, and any number of other things. It's also been shown to improve brain function over the long term and protect against dementia.

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Unhealthy Groups

The MIND diet specifically limits red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. You should have fewer than 4 servings a week of red meat, less than a tablespoon of butter a day, and less than a serving a week of each of the following: whole-fat cheese, fried food, and fast food.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/31/2020 Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 31, 2020


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The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association: "MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging."

NIH: "Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function," "Berry fruit enhances beneficial signaling in the brain," "New brain diet slows mental decline," "Cognition: the new frontier for nuts and berries," "Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior," "Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline," "Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain."

Rush University Medical Center: "Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer's," "MIND Diet Repeatedly Ranked Among Best."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 31, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.