MIND Diet: Best Foods to Eat to Keep Your Brain Young
Eating these healthy foods on the MIND diet can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
The MIND diet is based on the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet-two healthy eating plans in their own right. The MIND diet focuses specifically on foods that can help your brain and reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. Over decades of research, nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center identified 10 key foods associated with better brain function and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. Each of these foods is rich in compounds that have been shown to protect and nourish the brain. Here's what to eat more of each week on the MIND diet.
Related: Your Anti-Aging Diet
1. Whole Grains
Pictured recipe: Farro Salad with Cranberries and Persimmons
You should eat: ≥21 servings (3 per day). One serving is ½ cup cooked grains.
Brown rice, oats and other whole grains are high in magnesium, which helps brain cells use energy.
2. Leafy Greens
Pictured recipe: Sautéed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter
You should eat: ≥6 servings/week. One serving is 2 cups raw greens or 1 cup cooked greens.
Greens contain antioxidants including beta carotene and folate, and they are also rich in vitamin K, which is used to make brain cell membranes.
Pictured recipe: Berry-Almond Smoothie Bowl
You should eat: ≥2 servings/week. One serving is 1 cup of berries.
Berries contain flavonoids, which strengthen connections between neurons, making it easier for them to communicate.
Pictured recipe: Dark Chocolate Trail Mix
You should eat: ≥5 servings/week. One serving is 1 ounce of nuts or about 24 almonds or 49 pistachios.
Almonds are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that absorbs damaging free radicals surrounding brain cells, while walnuts contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
Pictured recipe: Composed Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
You should eat: ≥4 servings/week. One serving of beans is ½ cup cooked.
Many beans, including chickpeas, navy beans and pinto beans, are rich in magnesium, which helps brain cells use energy.
Pictured recipe: Rainbow Buddha Bowl with Cashew Tahini Sauce
You should eat: ≥7 servings/week (1 per day). One serving of vegetables is 1 cup or 2 cups of raw greens.
Veggies are full of vitamins, such as folate. In a 2012 study, women with Alzheimer's plaques and higher folate levels had fewer dementia symptoms.
Pictured recipe: Classic Sangria
You should drink: ≥7 servings/week (5 oz. a day). One serving of wine is 5 ounces.
It's still unclear why one serving of wine a day is good for the brain, but take note: more than one glass a day seems to do more damage than good.
Pictured recipe: One-Skillet Salmon with Fennel & Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous
You should eat: ≥1 serving/week. One serving of fish is 4 ounces cooked.
Oily fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation and are used to build the brain's solid matter.
Pictured recipe: Roast Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
You should eat: ≥2 servings/week. One serving of chicken or turkey is 3 ounces cooked.
Poultry is rich in choline, a B vitamin that is important for brain development and, according to a 2011 study, could protect against dementia.
10. Olive Oil
Pictured recipe: Grilled Summer Vegetables with Shallot-Herb Vinaigrette
You should: Use as your primary cooking oil.
Olive oil is rich in oleocanthol, a compound that calms the inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2.