Have you heard of the MIND diet? The MIND diet has mental strength as its main goal, but also achieves an overall healthful and balanced lifestyle diet, bringing it to #4 on the list of overall best diets by the U.S. News & World Report (1).
Although scientists have yet to discover the exact reason or cause behind Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, there are a few things they do know. Diet does play a role in the development of this disease. The MIND eating plan is meant to prevent Alzheimer’s by eating foods known to improve the brain.
The premise behind the MIND diet is that you eat at least 3 servings of whole grains, 1 salad, and at least two servings of vegetables daily.
This eating plan is a hybrid of two balanced, heart healthy diets designed for those who have a history of dementia in their families. By mixing food items from the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet, the MIND diet picks foods that are known to support brain health. The MIND diet stand for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, which is a mouthful, but fairly easy to understand.
This was actually designed by a nutritionist at the Rush University Medical Center, Martha Morris, through a study which was funded by the National Institute on Aging.
The basic premise behind the MIND diet is that you eat at least 3 servings of whole grains, 1 salad, and at least two servings of vegetables. You also get to drink one glass (5 ounces) of red wine each day, but this isn’t mandatory. If you don’t want the alcohol, you could drink pure, unsweetened red grape juice instead.
Most days offer you a snack consisting of nuts, every other day you eat a half cup of beans, and twice a week you eat a half cup serving of berries (the diet recommends blueberries, but if those are not available, any berry will do).
Fish is consumed at least 1 day each week and twice a week you eat poultry. Olive oil is used for cooking, rather than butter, margarine, or other cooking oils.
What you limit are the unhealthy foods. Less than 4 servings of red meat each week and less than 5 servings each week of sweets or pastries. You are allowed 1 teaspoon of butter each day, and only 1 serving of cheese, fried food, or fast food.
Although there are no actual restrictions regarding calories, the idea is to replace unhealthy choices with more natural, healthy foods.
Researchers followed 923 persons over an almost 5 year time period. Those who followed the MIND diet had a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s (an incredible 35% lower risk!) over the placebo group.
Although this diet plan was not actually designed for weight loss, most people find that they do lose weight on this diet, due to its emphasis on vegetables and avoidance of sweets and fried foods.
The MIND diet is well balanced and fairly easy to follow. There are no special foods to buy and nothing to weigh or measure.
Since the focus of this diet is fresh fruits and vegetables, it might end up costing you more than cheap, unhealthy foods.
If you are accustomed to eating a great deal of fried foods and red meat, you might feel as if you are “missing out” at first, but those feelings will pass in a few days.
As you can see from the above menu, this is a super heart health and brain healthy diet that will probably cause you to lose some weight, especially when combined with 30 minutes of exercise each day.