We know that what you eat can affect your heart health, and new research indicates that the same is true for your brain.

The MIND diet – which stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay – takes foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets that medical literature and data show to be good for the brain, says developer Martha Clare Morris, ScD, at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.

The MIND diet recommends 10 “brain healthy food groups” and five “unhealthy food groups” to avoid.

Here are the 10 foods the MIND diet encourages:

Green, leafy vegetables: Six or more servings per week of kale, spinach, cooked greens and salads.

All other vegetables: Try to eat other vegetables in addition to green, leafy vegetables; choose non-starchy vegetables high in nutrients and low in calories.

Berries: Eat berries at least twice a week for their antioxidant benefits, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Nuts: Try to get five servings of nuts or more each week. Vary the type of nuts to obtain a variety of nutrients.

Olive Oil: Use olive oil as your main cooking oil.

Whole grains: Aim for at least three servings daily. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and 100% whole wheat bread.

Fish: Eat fish at least twice a week. Choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Beans: Include beans in at least four meals every week; all beans, lentils and soybeans.

Poultry: Try to eat chicken or turkey at least twice a week (not fried, however).

Wine: Aim for no more than one glass daily of red or white wine. The red wine compound resveratrol may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

While you can eat more than these 10 foods, the more you stick to the recommendations, the better your results may be.

5 Foods to Avoid:

Butter and margarine: Try to eat less than 1 tablespoons daily, using olive oil as your main source.

Cheese: Limit cheese consumption to less than once per week.

Red meat: Aim for no more than three servings each week, including beef, pork, lamb and products made from these meats.

Fried food: The MIND diet highly discourages fried food, especially from fast food restaurants. Remove them from the diet or limit consumption to less than once per week.

Pastries and Sweets: This includes the processed junk food: ice cream, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, donuts, candy, etc. Remove them from the diet or limit these to no more than four times a week.

These five foods to avoid contain saturated and trans fats which are clearly associated with many diseases, including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that consuming saturated fats in excess is associated with poor brain health.

Promising results of the MIND diet, published in 2015 in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, encompassed a study of more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98. Participants who closely followed the diet and underwent neurological testing were found to have cognitive function levels the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger.

Editor’s Note: As presented here, the MIND diet offers a viable option in eating for brain health. Previously published articles in Desert Health discuss the Bredesen protocol which is more restrictive, but also showing significant results in reversing cognitive decline. More at www.DesertHealthNews.com (search Bredesen).

For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia, contact Alzheimers Coachella Valley at (760) 776.3100.

Sources: 1) http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/MIND-diet; 2) http://www.health.usnews.com/best-diet/MIND-diet; 3) http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/feature/MIND-diet-alzheimers-disease; 4) https://www.cbsnews.com/media/mind-diet-foods-avoid-alzheimers

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