Brain Healthy Diet Tips

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Many foods, including blueberries, leafy greens, and curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), have been studied for their potential cognitive benefit.

These foods were thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or other properties that might help protect the brain. So far, there is no evidence proving that eating or avoiding a specific food can prevent age-related cognitive decline.

While research on the relationship between diet and cognitive function is somewhat limited, it does point to the benefits of a few specific diets that can reduce heart disease and may also be able to reduce the risk of cognitive decline: the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet. The MIND diet combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets to create a diet aimed at reducing the risk of dementia and decline in brain health.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)


The DASH diet aims to reduce blood pressure and recommends:

Eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
Consuming whole grain, poultry, fish and nuts.
Decreasing intake of fats, red meats, sweets, sugared beverages and sodium.

The Mediterranean Diet


The Mediterranean Diet incorporates different principles of healthy eating, typically found in the areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea and recommends:
  • Focusing on fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains.
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, like olive oil.
  • Limiting red meat.
  • Using herbs to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

The MIND Diet


The MIND diet encourages the consumption of all kinds of vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry and a moderate amount of wine. Specifically, the MIND diet encourages eating the following 10 foods:
Green, leafy vegetables
The MIND diet recommends six or more servings per week of green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, cooked greens and salads.
All other vegetables
It’s also encouraged to eat another, non-starchy vegetable in addition to the green leafy vegetables at least once a day.
Berries
At least twice a week. Although published research only includes strawberries, other berries like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are good choices for their antioxidant benefits.
Nuts
Five or more servings or a variety of nuts each week is recommended.
Olive oil
Olive oil should be used as the main cooking oil.
Whole grains
At least three servings daily of whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and 100% whole-wheat bread is recommended.
Fish
The MIND Diet recommends one serving of fish per week, specifically fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Beans
Beans should be included in at least four meals every week. This includes all beans, lentils and soybeans.
Poultry
Chicken or turkey should be eaten at least twice a week. Note that fried chicken is not encouraged on the MIND diet.
Wine
The MIND Diet recommends no more than one glass daily. While both red and white wine may benefit the brain, much research has focused on the red wine compound resveratrol, which may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
 
 

Learn More About Preventing the Effects of Cognitive Aging