Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels

This is it; you have made up your mind; after reading about the Mediterranean and DASH diets and their mental and physical health benefits for longevity, you’ve shopped for the right foods, subscribed to for weekly insight, and picked up Bryant Terry’s cookbook Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes. Now your determination to age well throughout your lifespan is solidly in place; it’s go time, and you’re ready!

Hold on. Like anything worth doing, it is also worth improving. Promising research shows that the Mediterranean and DASH diets combined result in an even better way of maintaining your health, especially your aging brain. This blending is known as the MIND diet. It was specifically designed to reduce brain decline as you age and prevent dementia.

Since Aristotle advised, “Let food be thy medicine,” there has been an unrelenting interest in figuring out how and why food can make us healthier. Food research often reveals foods’ potential, but it takes decades to verify whether it is nutritionally beneficial, and sometimes it’s not.

Case in point; Erythritol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits, was deemed a safe alternative to processed sugar as a natural sweetener. However, recent research determined that commercially produced erythritol is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks. The study showed that while our bodies also produce erythritol, eating more through outside sources, such as packaged foods, adversely affects the heart and digestive system. Through your gut-brain connection, additional erythritol impacts brain health, too.

Back to the MIND diet, which results from continuing research that shows elements of the Mediterranean diet that focus on cardiovascular health with its promotion of fiber, antioxidants, and olive oil – in combination with the DASH diet created to combat hypertension by severely limiting salt – resulted in the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (MIND). All three diets emphasize primarily plant-based eating, noting that the Mediterranean and DASH diets also have brain health benefits. However, the MIND diet emphasizes specific foods and amounts that support brain health, including:

  • 3+ servings a day of whole grains quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal are a source of B vitamins that reduce brain inflammation and protect your memory
  • 1+ servings a day of vegetables (other than green leafy) broccoli, green beans, cabbage, and other cruciferous veggies contain phytochemicals known to preserve brain health
  • 6+ servings a week of green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, dark lettuce, and greens contain vitamin K, Lutein, folate, and beta carotene, the nutrients known to help slow cognitive decline.
  • 5+ servings a week of nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts are good sources of vitamin E, healthy fats, and plant compounds that boost cognition and memory.
  • 4+ meals a week of beans, lentils, black beans, soybeans, chickpeas, and kidney beans contain B vitamins, the number one vitamin for brain health.
  • 2+ servings a week of berries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries protect against inflammation, premature aging, and memory loss.
  • 2+ meals a week of poultry, chicken, and turkey are sources of lean protein, vitamins B6 and B12, choline, and iron, all support memory and cognitive function.
  • 1+ meals a week of fish, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain needs to function.
  • Mainly, olive oil, high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, is known to decrease the risk of memory loss and cognitive decline. Alternatives like walnut and peanut oils are high in unsaturated fat and contain vitamin E, which protects against dementia.

The Centers for Disease Control notes Alzheimer’s is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans 65 and older. The World Health Organization states over 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, with the lowest number living in the Blue Zones. Even more noteworthy are the findings that two Indigenous groups living in the Bolivian rainforest have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world. Blue Zone populations and the Tsimane and Moseten people of the Amazon eat a mainly plant-based diet consisting of whole-natural foods. They do not eat foods that the MIND diet advises to limit, like:

  • Red meat
  • Butter and other saturated fats
  • Processed and packaged pastries and sweets
  • Dairy cheese
  • Fried food
  • Fast Food

Currently, over 6.5 million Americans 65 and older have Alzheimer’s. Black Americans are twice as likely to have dementia and Alzheimer’s as white Americans. Nearly two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s are women. It is not too early or late for most to transition to a diet that protects brain health. The MIND diet is a scientifically backed plan that encourages eating various nutrient-dense, plant-based foods while eliminating processed, fried, and fast foods. It recommends eating plenty of berries, veggies, beans, nuts, lean poultry, and whole grains, all packed with essential vitamins and minerals, which can help protect the brain from damage. Following the MIND diet can help reduce your risk for cognitive decline and other aging-related neurological diseases.



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