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The MIND Diet for Mental Health

The MIND diet is a newly researched diet, or way of eating, that is found to help with neurological decline as individuals age. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. As shown by the name, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. By combining the positive aspects of both of these eating patterns, a healthful diet is produced to aid in brain health for all ages.

Research has shown that those who followed the MIND diet had a significant reduction in likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. The more closely the diet was followed, the greater the reduction was in acquiring Alzheimer’s disease. Following the MIND diet produces a slowing of aging in the brain equivalent to 7 ½ years.

To follow the MIND diet, see the description below. The diet largely focuses on increasing green leafy vegetables, eating berries and beans, and reducing saturated fat found in butter, red meat, and many sweets.

Research has also shown that even modest changes help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these modest changes include 2 vegetable servings per day, 2 berry (strawberry or blueberry) servings per week, and 1 fish serving per week.

Some of the reasons that these foods are better for brain health is the different components within them. Some of these components are:

  • Vitamin E (from green leafy vegetables, nuts, and plant oils), which is an antioxidant.

  • Berries, which have shown to reduce neuron loss and improve memory.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, which are important for brain health.

  • Vitamins/minerals/plant substances in green, leafy vegetables, which are protective against cognitive decline.

  • Healthy fats like those found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados that reduce risk of dementia.

10 Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet:

1. Green leafy vegetables: 1 salad daily

2. Other vegetables: 1 serving daily

3. Nuts: 1 serving daily

4. Berries: 2 or more servings/week; blueberries & strawberries preferred

5. Beans: 3-4 servings/week

6. Whole grains: 3 servings/day

7. Fish: 1 or more servings/week

8. Poultry: at least 2 servings/week

9. Olive oil: use as primary oil

10. Wine: 1 glass/day

5 Foods to Avoid/Limit on the MIND Diet:

1. Red meat: eat rarely

2. Butter: limit to 1 tbsp./day; avoid margarine completely

3. Cheese: 1 serving or less/week

4. Pastries & sweets: avoid all

5. Fried or fast food: less than 1 serving/week

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