Ask a Dietitian
"Diana, just a quick heads up to let you know we are still using your cookbook and the guys will often be heard saying what would Diana say about this or that....really good feed back... I made your potato salad and the oriental coleslaw on Sat. for a family luncheon and had rave reviews so thanks again."
The MIND diet is a researched-based diet developed by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, IL. The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is a diet for brain health and is not intended for weight loss or heart health but these are benefits also enjoyed by followers. It is a combination of 2 diets, the Mediterranean and DASH diets (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) with modifications placing emphasis on foods that have been linked by previous research to improve cognitive function and delay decline. Researchers found that people who adhered closely to the diet had a 53% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and those who followed it moderately had a 35% reduced risk.
The MIND Diet emphasizes foods shown to support a healthy brain. It recommends including the following:
- Green Leafy vegetables: eat ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw every day (kale, spinach, collards and romaine).
The Benefit: Leafy greens are rich in folate, a deficiency of which is linked to mental impairment and depression. They are rich in phytochemicals, Vitamin K, beta-carotene and lutein which may preserve brain function.
- Other vegetables: at least ½ cup once per day.
The Benefit: The are excellent sources of phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre that help fight infection, reduce inflammation and stabilize blood sugars.
- Berries: At least twice per week (1 cup) especially blueberries and strawberries.
The Benefit: Berries are excellent sources of phytochemicals called polyphenols which help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation and plaque build-up. They also may help reduce neuron loss and improve memory function.
- Beans: ½ cup every other day. (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, split peas)
The Benefit: They are a source of B vitamins which help neurons communicate, reduce fatigue and enhance mood. Beans are also a source of phytochemicals and glucose, a preferred source of fuel for the brain. They also contain fibre which helps stabilize blood sugars, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Whole grains: 3 servings per day (1 slice bread, ½ cup cooked grains, 3/4c cereal) including oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat.
The Benefit: Help reduce LDL cholesterol and improve blood sugar control.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use this oil mostly.
The Benefit: EVOO is a source of oleocanthal which boost the production of enzymes Breakdown plaque that would otherwise build up around the brain’s nerve cells disrupting brain cell communication. It is also an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fats which reduce inflammation and plaque build-up.
- Fish: At least 3oz once a week. (trout, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring etc.)
The Benefit: DHA, a fat in fish, is important for synaptic proteins in the brain and brain cell membrane structure which helps speed synaptic transmission. Higher intakes may slow brain aging, improve memory and thinking skills. DHA also reduces oxidative stress slowing plaque buildup.
- Poultry: 3 oz lean poultry without the skin at least twice a week
- Nuts:1/4 cup every day (especially walnuts)
The Benefit: Nuts contain Vitamin E, omega 3 fats, antioxidants, protein and fibre; a powerful combination of nutrients that fight inflammation, reduce LDL cholesterol, control blood sugars, reduce blood pressure and nourish your brain.
- Red wine: 5 oz/day for women and 10oz/day for men.
The Benefit: Resveratrol may reduce amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Excess wine however can increase blood sugars and blood pressure which can increase inflammation leading to blood vessel damage.
The MIND Diet recommends limiting these potentially damaging choices:
-Red Meat < 4 servings per week
-Butter and stick margarine: less than 1 Tbsp per day
-Cheese: less than one serving per week
-Pastries and sweets: limit <5 servings per week
-Fried or fast foods: less than one serving per week
Other Lifestyle choices that can improve brain health include:
Get enough sleep and rest
Be socially active
Be physically active.
A diet that is good for the blood vessels will be protective against vascular dementia.