June 26, 2017
Last Updated:
March 2, 2021

What to Know About the MIND Diet

When people think of “diet,” one goal usually comes to mind: losing weight. But some diets focus on specific organs to promote better health, with weight loss as an extra perk in the process. The Ornish diet, for example, is a popular plan for reducing heart disease. And the MIND diet, which combines the powers of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, focuses on brain-healthy foods. For that reason, MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This year, MIND ranked third in U.S. News & World Report’s best overall diets.

The MIND diet plan involves eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups including green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, fish and olive oil to reduce your dementia risk, according to U.S. News. (Check out our other dementia-preventing tips here). Specifically, the diet involves eating at least three servings of whole grains each day, as well as a salad and an additional vegetable. You can also have a daily glass of wine if you choose. MIND dieters eat nuts most days, beans every other day, poultry and berries twice a week, and fish once a week. Olive oil is a big source of healthy fats, similar to the Mediterranean diet.

MIND dieters aren’t extremely restricted, as you’re still allowed to eat sweets and pastries every week—as long as it totals less than five servings per week. The same goes for red meat, which is capped at four servings. But if you love cheese or fried foods, the MIND diet could prove more challenging, as you’re only supposed to eat less than a serving per week. And butter is basically off limits at less than 1 tablespoon a day.  As U.S. News points out, the diet’s primary goal is brain health rather than weight loss, but chances are you’ll shed some pounds because you’re eating lots of veggies and fewer desserts and fried foods.

Interestingly, the MIND diet was actually developed as a result of a study led by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris. The 4.5-year study through the National Institute on Aging found that people who ate more of the MIND diet foods had less risk of Alzheimer’s, even when they only followed it slightly. When followed moderately, the Alzheimer’s risk was 35 percent less, and when followed closely it was an impressive 53 percent less. So depending on what kind of results you want to see, you can really choose your dieting level and still see some results. 

What are your favorite brain-healthy foods? Share with us below us! 

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