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What Is the MIND Diet, and What Can It Do for Your Brain?

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By American Specialty Health on May 22, 2023
What Is the MIND Diet, and What Can It Do for Your Brain?

Did you know that eating certain foods may help boost your brain health? The MIND diet is an eating plan that nourishes your body and your brain.

Imagine being able to improve your brain’s long-term health by eating a bit more of this and bit less of that. Turns out, you might be able to. While research is ongoing, some studies suggest that eating certain foods may help slow brain aging. And these recommended foods are now all part of one food plan dubbed the MIND diet. 

The MIND diet and brain health

There are some risk factors for brain health—such as age or genetics—that can play a part in how well your brain ages. However, certain lifestyle choices may make a big difference. The kind of foods you eat is one of them.

There are many fad diets that focus on eating one particular type of food or avoiding another food altogether. Experts now know that these types of diets are not so great for long-term health. Also, there’s no single food or supplement that works as a “magic bullet” to improve your overall health, let alone your brain health.

Rather, studies suggest that eating a combination of so-called “brain-healthy” foods (and limiting others, like highly processed foods and added sugars) is more likely to support brain health as you age.

The nutrients from foods in the MIND diet may help boost certain brain functions. These include memory, mood, and concentration. And some studies suggest these foods may help slow cognitive decline. And again, while more research is needed, one study found that following this food plan helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53 percent. 

Combining 2 well-known healthy eating plans into one

The letters, M-I-N-D, in “MIND diet” stand for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This eating plan blends parts of both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

Both of these food plans have been shown to support many aspects of health. And they may help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name a few. But researchers combined them to focus on supporting better brain health.

Learn about 3 other key lifestyle habits, besides food, that can help support better brain health.blog_83_images_0002_GettyImages-1340980114

What defines the MIND diet

The MIND diet has a focus on whole foods. But it also points you to the foods that help support brain health. Highlights of what you should include on the MIND diet are:

  • Leafy green vegetables: 6 servings per week
  • Berries: 2 servings per week
  • Nuts: 5 servings per week
  • Fish: 1 serving per week
  • Whole grains: 3 servings per day
  • Olive oil

Following the MIND diet also means limiting some foods. Try to cut back on highly processed foods, or foods with added sugar and salt. Cutting these out may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These are big risk factors for stroke and heart disease. And both of these conditions can harm the health of your brain by limiting blood flow to it. That, in part, is how the MIND diet may help support and protect your brain health.  

Learn how F.A.S.T. thinking can help you spot a stroke.

The MIND diet also suggests limiting dairy, red meat, and refined carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and white rice. The plan limits sugary drinks and trans fats, as well.blog_83_images_0001_GettyImages-1463754181


Putting the MIND diet into practice

If you want to try it out, don’t worry about changing your entire way of eating all at once. Instead, start with one small change. Here are a few easy ways to introduce parts of this eating plan into your life:

•    Dress your salad with olive oil and vinegar instead of a bottled salad dressing.

•    Trade your packaged or processed snacks for a handful of unsalted nuts.

•    Plan to eat at least one serving of dark green leafy veggies each day.

•    Make fish for dinner once a week.

•    Drink water instead of soda or other sugary beverages.

Bit by bit, you can work more of the foods from the MIND diet into your own food plan. Doing so will support the health of not only your brain, but your body as well. 



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This information is not intended to take the place of regular medical care or advice. Please check with your doctor before using this information or beginning any self-care program. Images used for this article do not depict any members of the Silver&Fit Program.


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This article was written by Jason Nielsen, edited by Gail Olson, and clinically reviewed by Elizabeth Thompson, MPH, RDN.


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