MIND Diet Could Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s

study from Rush University in Chicago has found that the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 50% and still has protective powers, even when not followed rigorously.MIND Diet Could Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's

Learn more about the development of the diet and which foods are helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Developing the MIND Diet

Researchers from Rush University in Chicago have combined elements from both the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets to create the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet.

A Mediterranean diet is high in healthy fats, omega 3’s and whole grains, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The DASH diet focuses on fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, hypertension and stroke.

Researchers evaluated over 900 seniors who were participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP) project that studies the aging process. Researchers evaluated the nutritional information of seniors that were already following basic MIND diet principles as well as those who ate a Mediterranean diet and a DASH diet. Researchers then noted the incidences of Alzheimer’s of those seniors over a 5 year period. They found that those seniors who followed the MIND diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% and when it was not followed rigorously it still reduced the disease by as much as 35%.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Martha Morris, was surprised to see that those who did not follow the diet strictly still had considerable protection from Alzheimer’s.

“It was surprising that even those individuals who had moderate adherence to the MIND diet had reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This was not the case for either the DASH or Mediterranean diets for which only the highest adherence conferred protective benefits.”

The strength of the diet may be because the diet was specifically designed according to the latest research on how nutrition affects the brain. Researchers believe that people who follow the diet for years will get the best protection from Alzheimer’s.

Elements of the MIND Diet

The MIND diet is comprised of 15 elements, 10 brain-healthy food groups and then five unhealthy groups. The 10 brain-healthy food groups include:

  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Fish
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Other vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Wine

The five unhealthy food groups include:

  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Fast or fried foods
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Red meats

Do you follow the MIND diet principles or will you now that you know following it, even moderately, can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • April

    I am surprised that coconut oil was not considered in the healthy food group; and wonder if 100% grass fed cows were considered in lieu of those fed a grain fed diet and raised on a conventional feed lot when looking at red meat, butter, and cheese.

    • Candace

      I agree with you 100%, April.. Also, I would add grass fed red meat, eggs from pasture-raised chickens, and butter from pastured, grass-only cattle. Supposedly, those foods are not inflammatory, while the ones that are grain-fed ARE. It would be nice if studies could be conducted with and without these additions.

  • Catherine Frayne

    I am very surprised that Coconut Oil did not get a mention here.

    • Brian Cross

      Or eggs, neither healthy or unhealthy group.

  • caitlinburm

    Hi all,

    We couldn’t agree with you more given how much research has shown that organic foods and products like coconut oil may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

    If you’d like to read more about coconut oil, we have another blog article here that covers coconut oil and it’s effects on the body and mind: https://www.alzheimers.net/2013-05-29/coconut-oil-for-alzheimers/

  • MaryJ1591

    What is the status of Eggs in the MIND diet: are they allowed/recommended? Thank you

  • Doc

    Overall this is a good diet but I have a few reservations; I agree with red meat but cheese should not be linked with it; you need vitamin k2 to make shingomyelin necessary for nerve function.

    • Brian Cross

      There’s a general pattern. Every unhealthy food group has high levels of saturated fat. Including cheese. Separate studies consistently link high saturated fat intake to accelerated age related cognitive decline.

      Now, some of the healthy food group have high saturated fat too, like nuts and beans. But they also contain high levels of healthy fats. And high levels of antioxidants which, when consumed from natural sources. are often associated with slowing age related cognitive decline.

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