Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on July 31, 2020

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. 

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.

Protein

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.

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.

Snacks

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.

Wine

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.

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.

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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