Your diet has a significant impact on your heart health. Doctors have been saying it for years. But did you know that what you eat also affects your brain? A recent study conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that a brain-focused diet known as the MIND diet improves brain health and can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53 percent.
MIND – an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay – is based on years of research on foods known to benefit cognition and brain function. It is a hybrid diet that combines the Mediterranean and DASH diets, some of the most highly regarded diets.
What’s great about the MIND diet is that even people who do not follow it strictly can reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by approximately a third.
Want to slash your Alzheimer’s risk? Here’s what you should be eating…
First on the list of healthy foods to consume to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s is nuts, which are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. The MIND diet recommends eating them at least five times per week.
The creators of the diet have not specified which types of nuts are best to consume for enhanced brain health. Thus, it is probably a good idea to eat a selection of nuts to obtain various nutrients.
Next on the list of MIND diet foods that can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s is whole grains. That includes brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, and 100% whole-wheat bread.
To obtain the benefits that these foods provide, it is recommended that dieters aim to consume at least three servings daily. This may seem like a lot, but serving sizes are small – one-half cup per grain.
Want to boost your brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s? Add two to six servings of leafy green veggies to your diet, particularly spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens, which are loaded with vitamins A and C.
While these vegetables are not specifically recommended in the Mediterranean and DASH diets, the MIND diet study found that they can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s when consumed regularly.
Studies have shown that diets high in chickpeas, black beans, and cannellini beans slow cognitive decline. It’s no wonder, then, why the MIND diet recommends four or more servings of beans weekly.
An easy way to work more beans into your daily diet is to cook up a pot of beans each week and then ration them. Canned beans are fine, too, as long as they are low in sodium and you rinse them before eating.
Berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. – are powerful in the fight against Alzheimer’s. That is, they can help to prevent the disease, which is why they form part of the MIND diet.
What makes berries a great brain food is their high flavonoid content. They’re particularly rich in anti-inflammatory anthocyanins. Eat two 1/2 cup servings each week to reap the brain benefits of berries.
For a healthy brain, give red meat a skip and eat more chicken and turkey. Two or more 3-ounce servings per week should do the trick, according to the creators of the MIND diet, as long as you don’t fry it.
Instead of frying your poultry, you can bake, sauté, roast, or grill, all of which are healthier cooking options. There are loads of chicken and turkey recipes that are healthful and delicious.
Alright, so you already knew that fish is good for your brain, but did you know that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can stave off Alzheimer’s disease? Like poultry, though, this meat should not be fried.
The best types of fish for boosting brain health and protecting from dementia are salmon, herring, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines. Eat fatty fish at least once a week. Recommends the MIND diet.
Olive Oil (Virgin)
Use virgin olive oil as your primary cooking oil. That’s the MIND diet recommendation. Why? It’s a good source of monounsaturated fat, which helps to reduce inflammation and promotes heart health.
Additionally, extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a polyphenol that has been found in research studies to benefit brain health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A glass of red wine per day can keep Alzheimer’s away. At least, that was one of the findings when the MIND diet study was conducted. Just don’t exceed five ounces daily, or it could have the opposite effect.
Red wine is beneficial for brain health because it contains resveratrol and other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals. Some high-quality grape juices may offer similar benefits.