Promote Optimal Brain Health by Following the MIND Diet
Keeping your brain functioning at its best is something everyone wants. There are several well-known whole diets which promote brain health including the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. A less well-known diet to add to your choices of a whole diet approach to promote brain health is the MIND diet.
The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diets. It is a diet which has been designed to promote your brain health, specifically to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet may also promote heart health and help reduce blood pressure, reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes as well as other chronic health conditions.
The basic principles to follow on the MIND diet include:
Vegetables are a key component to brain health with many important nutrients which help your brain functioning optimally including the B vitamin folate. The goal is to include six servings of leafy greens a week. This can include vegetables like kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Two cups of salad vegetables or one cup of cooked vegetables is a serve.
In addition to the leafy greens, at least one extra serve of another type of vegetable should be included each day with an aim of seven or more a week. A serving is the same as salad vegetables.
Berries are to be included two times a week. A serving is one cup of berries. Berries offer your brain many health benefits including being a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to fight off free radicals, which in excess can cause damage and disease to the cells of your body.
Berries also contain flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, which helps to strengthen the connection between the neurons in your brain. By strengthening the connections between the neurons in your brain you are making it easier for the brain to transfer messages.
- Whole grains
Three serves of whole grains are included on the MIND diet. A serving is half a cup of cooked whole grains or 35g of whole grain containing crackers or crispbreads like Corn Thins slices. Whole grains contain a plethora of health benefits for your entire body including your brain. This includes the mineral magnesium which has a role in over three hundred different enzymatic reactions in your body.
Poultry is included on the MIND diet and is recommended at two or more servings a week. A serving is eighty-five grams or three ounces. Chicken has several nutrients which promote the health of your brain including vitamin B12 which is needed to help your central nervous system to function optimally.
Aim for five servings of nuts a week. With a serving being one ounce or around thirty grams. Different nuts support the health of your brain in different ways. For example, walnuts are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fat while hazelnuts and almonds are a good source of vitamin E.
Beans are another rich source of magnesium which plays many roles in promoting your brain health including being able to create energy. On the MIND diet four servings of beans are included a week with a serve being half a cup of cooked beans.
Fish provide your brain with a matrix of health benefits which include essential omega-3 fat. DHA, a component of omega-3 fat is the main fat found in your brain. Animal products are also a good source of choline which may help reduce your risk of developing dementia
At least one serving of fish a week is included with a serving size being one hundred and thirteen grams or four ounces.
- Olive Oil
Your first choice of cooking oil should be olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the recommended variety to select as it not only includes heart healthy monounsaturated fat but thirty-six different antioxidants.
If you do not drink alcohol, it is recommended not to start, however if you do enjoy a glass of wine there is good news for you. One glass daily is the limit recommended on the MIND diet. A polyphenol found in wine called resveratrol may help protect your brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease. A serving is five ounces or around one hundred and fifty mills.
- Red meat should be limited to less than four servings a week.
- Cheese is restricted to one serving a week.
- No more than one tablespoon of margarine or butter should be included in the diet daily.
- The ‘sometimes foods’ such as fried and fast foods should be enjoyed no more than once a week. Also, the aim is to limit baked goods like pastries and candies to no more than five servings a week.
Take home message: A whole diet approach to optimize your overall health and wellbeing is key. If you are seeking a whole diet approach which may help promote your brain health and reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease it may be worth considering the MIND diet.