There are diets designed for helping nearly every type of health problem out there. And one that has recently become very prominent is the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which may be helpful in preventing Alzheimer's disease. The "DASH" stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension."
The MIND diet, which aims to prevent Alzheimer's disease with a focus on brain-healthy foods, was developed through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging in 2015. "This study, in particular, focused on around 40 to 50 years old when they did the study," said Franciscan Health Registered Dietitian Yu-Han Huang MS, RD, CD. "It's definitely not too late when you are 40 , 50, or if you are 60."
The MIND diet focuses on eating foods shown to support a healthy brain and delay decline.
MIND Diet Foods
The MIND diet takes components of the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet, focusing on foods that impact brain health. These include:
Plenty of leafy-green vegetables and other vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots or zucchini daily
Enjoying certain fruits like berries at least twice a week, nuts every day, and whole grains three times per day
Focusing on lean proteins such poultry and fish
Produce Picks in the MIND Diet
Berries and leafy vegetables are emphasized in this diet because of the immense nutritional benefits they hold. Particularly, dietary vitamin E found in nuts, plant oils, seeds and leafy greens, is a very potent antioxidant associate with brain health. B vitamins and vitamin C found in berries and whole grains, both have been found to help neurons cope with aging. Vegetables, berries and nuts are very easy to add to your diet, because they're easily made into a morning smoothie mixed into a salad or a good mid afternoon snack. Check out these tips for increasing vegetables into your daily meal plan.
While berries and vegetables are the freshest during their growing season, buying frozen produce can result in just as delicious of a meal, often with minimal impact to the health benefits.
Focusing on Fish
The other integral part of this diet is the emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, in particular), which are readily found in fish. "The main benefit of DHA, is its ability to reduce cognitive impairment in the brain," Huang said. "It is recommended that you include fish in your diet at least once or twice per week, and limit the amount of red meat that you consume."
Red meats hold high levels of saturated fatty acids, the same ones that are often found in pastries, butter and desserts. High levels of saturated fats increase cholesterol and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. Reducing your saturated fatty acid intake is not as difficult as it seems. Focus on a healthy, balanced diet and treat pastries and desserts as special food that you enjoy occasionally.