Many diseases can be better managed by making modifications to yourdiet, including but not limited to, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis. Recent research has even come out suggesting that modifications in one’s diet pattern can significantly decrease the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Given the big “push” in the media for keeping your brain healthy with diet, let’s focus on how dietary changes can improve brain health.
Research on nutrition and its effect on neurodegenerative disease has been ongoing at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. From this research, the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay or MINDdiet was created. As can be inferred from the name, this diet combines elements of both the Mediterranean diet as well as the DASH diet.
MIND Diet 101
The cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been reported for years (check out a previous article of mine on this), however the MIND diet is unique in that it also takes elements from the DASH diet. For those of you unfamiliar, the DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and is prescribed to people with cardiovascular issues. It recommends similar dietary choices as the Mediterranean diet with big emphasis on cutting back sodium and saturated fat.
The MIND diet is a plant-based diet that emphasizes fruit and vegetable intake as well as poultry and fish and encourages you to limit added sugar, salt and saturated fat.In this “diet”, specific recommendations are made for each food group and various foods.
- Vegetables: 2 or more servings per day – focus on leafy green vegetables and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, onions, green beans, eggplant, etc.
- Berries: 2 or more servings per week – this includes any and all types of berries!
- Whole Grains: 3 or more servings per day – with a major emphasis on whole grains, keep everything minimally processed.
- Nuts: 5 or more servings a week – opt for low/no salt nuts, choose between almonds, walnut, pecans, etc.
- Beans: 4 or more servings per week – this will provide you with additional protein and more fiber!
- Seafood:1 or more servings per week – choose more fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines as these are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your brain!
- Poultry: 2 or more servings per week – this animal protein choice is lower in fat, but still equal in protein.
In addition to limiting sugar and saturated fat, the MIND diet also restricts red meat, fried food and refined grain consumption!
MIND Approved Meal Ideas
Now that you are informed about the MIND diet, what’s the next step? Check out some of my own recipes below to get you started!
- Mediterranean Chicken and Rice
- Buckwheat with Warm Spices, Steamed Broccoli and Tomatoes
- Roasted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Salad
- Wilted Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Dates and Macadamia Nuts
The best part about this eating style is the freedom and versatility! There are so many meal ideas you can come up with to keep it interesting, but still ensure you are getting the recommended about from each food group. Don’t be afraid to use this as a way to get creative!
Your Turn to Take Action:Make one dish this week keeping the MIND diet in mind. Letme know what you make in the comments below!