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The MIND Diet Health Plan

The MIND diet is designed to support brain health throughout a person’s life and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but it is also good for the heart and general wellness. In a nutshell, this diet encourages increasing the intake of plant-based foods and decreasing saturated fats, sugar and red meat.

What is the MIND Diet?

The MIND (Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is based on the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, with modifications based on the scientific evidence about the effects of nutrition on brain function.

This diet was founded on the results of a study funded by the National Institute on Aging. The goal was to uncover and emphasize brain-healthy foods that lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet emphasizes whole plant-based foods and limits red meat, sugar, and foods high in saturated fats. In observational studies ranging from 900-16k people over 58 years of age, eating a MIND diet was linked to improved memory, decreased cognitive decline, and lower rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Mind Diet Foods

The MIND diet focuses on foods rich in antioxidants (lutein, carotenoids, and flavonoids), vitamins (E, folate, and niacin), and omega-3 fatty acids. It limits foods high in saturated and trans fats.

This diet outlines 10 brain-healthy food categories and provides minimum serving suggestions for each to maximize benefits:

Whole grains (e.g., quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal):

3 servings a day

Serving size: ½ cup

Green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards, arugula):

6 servings a week

Serving size: 1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked

Nuts (e.g., walnuts, macadamia, almonds, pecans):

5 servings a week

Serving size: ⅓ cup

Beans (e.g., lentils, garbanzo, mung bean, pinto bean, black beans etc):

3 servings a week

Serving Size: ½ cup

Berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries):

2 servings a week

Serving size: ½ cup

Poultry (chicken, turkey):

2 servings a week

Serving size: 3 oz cooked

Other vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, squash, peppers):

1 serving a day

Serving size: 1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked

Fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, trout, halibut, sardines, herring):

1 serving a week

Serving size: 3 oz cooked

Wine (red or white; red wine contains resveratrol, which may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

No more than one glass a day

Serving size: 5 oz

Primary oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The MIND diet encourages limiting the intake of foods that are high in saturated and/or trans fats to the following maximum serving:

Butter and margarine: 1 tbsp/day Pastries and sweets: 5 servings/week Red meat: 4 servings/week Cheese: 1 serving/week Fried or fast food: 1 serving/week

The Mind Diet Plan

The primary focus of the MIND diet is to increase the types of foods that support brain health and to cut down on those that don’t. There are no limits on calories or number of meals per day, and, unlike other diets, it doesn’t require eliminating entire food groups, like fats or carbohydrates.

The MIND diet is not a strict diet. Rather, it provides guidelines to follow on a daily or weekly basis. In an observational study, even mildly following the diet reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in over 900 adults (58-98 years of age).

When selecting MIND-diet foods, it is best to choose fresh or frozen berries and vegetables. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals that support brain health compared to precooked or canned foods.

To help you stick to the MIND diet, have the following tips in mind:

Aim to eat one green salad every day. Pair with a soup or sandwich at lunch or include one before dinner.

Keep frozen berries on hand. These are cheaper and available throughout the year. Add them to morning smoothies, oatmeal, or as a quick snack.

Choose whole grains over refined. Eat brown rice, quinoa, or ancient grains over white pasta and bread.

Batch-cook meatless meals for easy lunches. Bean chili, lentil dahl, chickpea curries are great reheated for lunch on busy work days.

How Does the Mind Diet Boost Health?

What differentiates the MIND diet from its parent diets is its focus on identifying key foods, serving sizes and frequencies that protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive decline.

All the key foods included in the MIND diet have been researched for their brain-protective effects:

Leafy green vegetables, high in vitamins (C, E, K, and folate) and antioxidants, slowed cognitive decline and protected against the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease (observational studies of 3k elderly people).

Antioxidant-rich berries are the only fruit highlighted in the MIND d