The MIND diet was introduced after decades of research and close examination of the results after eating specific foods. The research specifically examined declining brain health with age and the chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
The MIND diet combines the properties of two other well-known diets: the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet. The DASH diet was developed after years of clinical trials and stands for “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”. However, the Mediterranean diet is inspired by the conventional eating habits of people from the Meditteranean countries. The prime objective of combining parts of these two renowned diets is to reduce dementia and the problem of crashing brain function with aging.
As of now, there are no specific guidelines of following the MIND diet, but one can simply stick to eating the ten most emphasized foods that are highlighted by the researchers, along with neglecting the consumption of those which are not encouraged.
10 Foods for the MIND Diet
Leafy and Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia because they are rich in nutrients that enhance brain health like Vitamin E, flavonoids, carotenoids, and folate. One serving per day will slow down the aging of your brain in the long-run. The most preferred vegetables are Collards, Kale, Lettuce, or Spinach.
All the other vegetables
Aim at consuming other vegetables apart from the green and leafy ones, at least once a day. Avoid choosing starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, corn, etc. They have very high-calorie content and the nutrient content is comparatively low.
Nuts are rich in fat-soluble Vitamin E, improving your mood, enhancing your memory, and expanding the attention and learning capacity. However, they also have high fat and calorie content. But the presence of essential vitamins and minerals along with phytonutrients strengthens your brain health. You should aim to include at least five or more servings of nuts per day.
Whole grains such as Barley, oats, brown rice, and quinoa have abundant vitamins and minerals to prevent brain inflammation, which will help you preserve your memory. You should include at least three servings of whole grains daily through whole-wheat muffins, slices of bread, tortillas, cereals, oatmeals, or whole-grain pasta for maximum benefits.
Berries are significantly rich in antioxidants, which prevent cell damage. The properties of these fruits help the transmission of information to the brain by increasing the function of neurons. They also prevent inflammation of brain cells and improve motor control and cognition. It is advisable to take at least two servings of berries in one week so that its flavonoid content can peak your brain health.
Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, prevents aging of your brain. It alters how your gut communicates with your brain cells because of the presence of oleic acid and polyphenols hydroxytyrosol. The properties of olive oil also help reduce stress and anxiety. You can use olive oil as the main cooking oil to prepare any meal of your choice.
Beans are rich in Vitamin B and proteins, and they help the neurotransmitters to pass information at a fast pace. You can start consuming beans in the form of legumes, lentils, bean salad, chili, lentil soups, or hummus. You can even try plates of pasta made up of lentils, soya bean, or black beans. Adding beans to your snacks, salads, soups, and other meals is also a good option. Consuming at least four meals of beans in one week will boost your brain health and memory over time.
Consumption of fish, at least once a week, will improve your learning ability and memory and reduce the levels of cognitive decline. To ensure continued and long-term benefits, you need to be consistent in taking your meals. Choosing fatty fishes like sardines, salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel is highly beneficial because of the high levels of Omega-3 Fatty acids present in them.
Wine detoxifies your body and lowers the inflammation of nervous tissues. Researches have proven that wine can prevent permanent damage to the brain after a central nervous system injury or stroke. You should not drink more than one glass of wine per day.
Chicken and turkey are great sources of brain-strengthening compounds and lean protein. They even contain Vitamin B6 and B12, along with good amounts of dietary choline. All these nutrients help in healthy cognition and offer neuroprotective benefits at large. Consuming two meals of poultry food per week is considered very healthy for your brain functioning.
Now, it is not at all mandatory to stick to the targeted amount of servings of the particular food. Even if you can maintain a moderate consumption at the beginning, that is enough. There is no rule of not eating any other food while sticking to a MIND Diet. However, maintaining the appropriate consumption of the ten foods mentioned above will ensure faster results.
5 foods to be avoided in a MIND Diet
Cheese contains high amounts of calories and saturated fats, increasing the risks of major health problems like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, nerve blockage, and even diabetes. Therefore, it is important to restrict the consumption of any kind of cheese to not more than one serving per week.
You need to avoid fried food while following the MIND Diet because it has adverse effects on memory and learning capacities. Apart from harming your brain-health, it also results in diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems. Limiting fried food consumption to once a week, especially food that is not home-cooked, will help you get continued results.
The saturated fats present in red meat increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and even sudden death. You will have high chances of brain dysfunctions at specific intervals if you continue consuming more and more red meat regularly. Restricting the consumption to once or twice a week will help you notice the desired results from your MIND Diet.
Pastries and Sweets
This category covers all the processed desserts and junk foods you can think of like ice creams, shakes, brownies, cookies, donuts, candies, and much more. You need to avoid the consumption of processed food because they also adversely deteriorate your brain and heart health.
Margarine and Butter
Instead of using butter and margarine, use olive oil for cooking and dipping. Try to make olive oil as your primary cooking oil and restrict butter usage to less than 1 tablespoon in a single day.
All the food emphasized in the MIND diet is extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients, which boost your memory and brain-health and benefit your overall health altogether. Consistent consumption will promote healthy eating habits along with lowering the risks of damaging brain functions over time. There is appropriate evidence available from research, which shows that the MIND Diet helps prevent Alzheimer’s, but since there are many other causes of this disease, you can not take this as a permanent cure to the problem.