The MIND Diet is a hybrid of the highly effective Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. As the name implies, the diet plan is intended to promote a healthy brain, including lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, developed the plan through a study that was funded by the National Institute on Aging. Morris’ goal was to help prevent Alzheimer’s through a healthy eating plan.
What is the MIND Diet?
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh, natural foods and limits unhealthy fats and red meat. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is designed to steer people away from high sodium foods that elevate blood pressure. Morris explains that the study chose to combine the two diet plans because they tend to be easy to follow.
In order to follow the plan, you eat 10 healthy foods and avoid eating five unhealthy foods.
The healthy foods are:
- Green, leafy vegetables in particular
- Berries, especially blueberries
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
Unhealthy foods include:
- Fried or fast food
- Red meats
- Butter and stick margarine
- Pastries and sweets
While one of the cons of the DASH Diet is that people have to make up their own rules to follow it, the MIND diet offers instructions:
- Eat at least three servings of whole grains per day
- Include a salad each day
- Eat one other vegetable every day
- Enjoy a glass of wine each day
- Snack almost every day on nuts
- Eat beans every other day
- Consume poultry and berries at least twice a week
- Consume fish at least once a week
- Unhealthy foods are allowed, but less than one serving per week with the exception of butter
- Less than 1 tablespoon a day of butter is allowed per day
The study followed participants over the course of a decade and found that people that followed at least some of the rules were better protected against Alzheimer’s than those who didn’t. The longer people followed the rules, the better protected they were against the degenerative condition.
Pros of the MIND Diet
Because the MIND diet also uses principles of other diet plans, it may offer benefits beyond improved cognitive function. The Mediterranean diet has helped dieters lose weight and lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and lessen the risk of diabetes while DASH is successful at warding off diabetes.
Cons of the MIND Diet
Like both the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet, the MIND diet is meant to be followed long-term. As a result, the MIND diet has relatively few risks since it is how people should eat. The only potential for risks is that the Mediterranean diet focuses on enjoying fish. It is important to know where your fish comes from to avoid the risk of toxins and other contaminants that have become a problem when enjoying fish and seafood.