Enjoy a week of delicious meals aimed at reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline in this 7-day brain-health meal plan.
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Chopped Power Salad with Chicken
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Most of us have heard that the healthy lifestyle habits we have now can help prevent or lower our risk of developing issues like diabetes and heart disease as we age. But did you know that the habits we forge now can also reduce our risk of cognitive declines as we get older? Growing research shows that people who have high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugars and heavier body weights in theirs 20s and 30s are more likely to experience cognitive declines as they get older. In this healthy Mediterranean-inspired MIND diet plan, we chose a week of brain-boosting meals and foods to protect your head and improve your overall health.

Because weight loss can play a role in protecting your brain if you're overweight, we set this plan at 1,500 calories per day, which is a level where most people will lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. For those with different calorie needs, we included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day.

What Is the MIND Diet?

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is essentially a Mediterranean diet with a special focus on certain foods that may help protect our brain. Of course, diet isn't the only factor that determines our future brain health—lifestyle habits, exercise, genetics and a bit of luck also play a role. Because the Mediterranean diet has been shown again and again to be one of the top-rated patterns of healthy eating, it's a great all-around diet to improve your overall health and protect your brain function. To get started, focus on a wide variety of produce, whole grains, legumes, poultry, fish and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, plus limit processed foods, added sugars, excess alcohol (more than one glass most days) and red meat.

To follow the MIND diet in this plan, we aimed for three servings of whole grains per day, one serving of leafy greens and one serving of another vegetable each day, berries and poultry at least twice a week and a serving of beans or lentils at least every other day. Plus, you'll see a glass of red wine on the menu with dinner each evening. If you're not a wine fan or prefer not to have a glass, opt for a serving of berries or a cup of green tea instead.

Foods to Focus on for Brain Health:

  • Whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat, oats, freekeh, bulgur, brown rice)
  • Nuts and seeds, including natural (no-sugar-added) nut butters
  • Leafy greens (like spinach, chard, lettuce, kale)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit, especially berries
  • Fish
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Beans and lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Red wine

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Meal-Prep Vegan Moroccan Lettuce Wraps to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1

Tabbouleh with Pan-Seared Chicken

Breakfast (288 calories)

A.M. Snack (174 calories)

Lunch (430 calories)

P.M. Snack (154 calories)

  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • ¼ cup hummus

Dinner (437 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,482 calories, 71g protein, 149g carbohydrates, 40g fiber, 61g fat, 1,634mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup blackberries and omit the hummus at the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 22 walnut halves to breakfast and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad to dinner.

Day 2

vegan-med-lentil-soup.jpeg

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal, prepared with water
  • ⅔ cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (185 calories)

  • 24 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (425 calories)

P.M. Snack (82 calories)

  • 6 oz. low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (502 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,505 calories, 51g protein, 159g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 67g fat, 1,249mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast, change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumber and reduce the kefir to 4 oz. at the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase to 4 Tbsp. walnuts at breakfast, add 1 medium orange to the A.M. snack, add 20 walnut halves to the P.M. snack, and add a 1-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Day 3

Mediterranean Egg & Tomato Skillet with Pita (Shakshouka)

Breakfast (288 calories)

A.M. Snack (93 calories)

  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • 3 Tbsp. hummus

Lunch (425 calories)

P.M. Snack (185 calories)

  • 24 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (533 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,524 calories, 54g protein, 160g carbohydrate, 43g fiber, 68g fat, 1,237mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the hummus at the A.M. snack, change the P.M. snack to 1/2 cup blueberries and omit the side salad at dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 15 walnut halves to breakfast plus add 1/2 an avocado and a 1-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Day 4

Hearty Chickpea & Spinach Stew

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal, prepared with water
  • ⅔ cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (209 calories)

  • 16 walnut halves

Lunch (425 calories)

P.M. Snack (50 calories)

  • 1 cup sliced carrots

Dinner (526 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,521 calories, 61g protein, 155g carbohydrate, 40g fiber, 67g fat, 1,233mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and change the A.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumber.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase to 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at breakfast, add 1/4 cup hummus to the P.M. snack, and add 1 serving Guacamole Chopped Salad and a 1-oz. slice of whole-wheat baguette to dinner.

Day 5

Chopped Power Salad with Chicken
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Breakfast (288 calories)

A.M. Snack (185 calories)

  • 24 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (425 calories)

P.M. Snack (16 calories)

  • 1 cup sliced cucumber

Dinner (591 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,505 calories, 83g protein, 130g carbohydrate, 35g fiber, 66g fat, 1,065mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 2/3 cup blackberries and change dinner to the Green Goddess Salad with Chicken.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 15 walnut halves to breakfast, add 1/4 cup hummus to the P.M. snack, and add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to dinner.

Day 6

Salmon & Avocado Salad

Breakfast (310 calories)

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal, prepared with water
  • ⅔ cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (31 calories)

  • ½ cup blackberries

Lunch (313 calories)

P.M. Snack (231 calories)

  • 30 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (633 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,518 calories, 74g protein, 97g carbohydrate, 34g fiber, 87g fat, 873 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the walnuts at breakfast and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries.

To make it 2,000 calories: Increase to 4 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at breakfast, add 25 unsalted dry-roasted almonds to the A.M. snack, and add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to dinner.

Day 7

Skillet Lemon Chicken & Potatoes with Kale

Breakfast (288 calories)

A.M. Snack (174 calories)

Lunch (313 calories)

P.M. Snack (235 calories)

  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 24 unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Dinner (499 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,508 calories, 72g protein, 139g carbohydrate, 40g fiber, 70g fat, 1,142mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 medium orange and omit the almonds at the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 15 walnut halves to breakfast, add 1 medium orange to the A.M. snack, and add 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to dinner.