The MIND Diet

Picnic table with four bowls of fresh berries
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Mid-life obesity has been linked to an earlier onset of Alzheimer disease, but recent research has revealed a particular combination of dietary changes that may actually reduce that risk.

The MIND Diet

One group of researchers has devised what they call the “Mediterranean-Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension (DASH) diet intervention for neurodegenerative delay (MIND) diet score.”

This score captures components of both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet that have been shown to be protective against cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease.

Both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet have been shown in prior studies to reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diet has also recently been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

MIND Diet Slows Mental Decline

In one study that looked at change in mental function over an average of 4.7 years among nearly 1,000 participants of the Memory and Aging Project, the researchers found that adhering to the MIND diet slowed cognitive decline. In fact, according to the study authors, “The difference in decline rates for being in the top tertile of MIND diet scores versus the lowest was equivalent to being 7.5 years younger in age.”

In another study, the same researchers found that eating according to the MIND diet may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease.

The Components of the MIND Diet

The MIND diet consists of 15 food groups, and, according to the researchers who devised it, may be easier to follow than the Mediterranean or the DASH diet.

There are 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and 5 unhealthy food groups.

The 10 healthy food groups in the MIND diet include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Berries (the MIND diet appears to place a higher emphasis on berries over other kinds of fruit)
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains
  • Olive oil
  • Wine

It should be noted that all of the above are staples of the Mediterranean diet as well.

The 5 unhealthy food groups to avoid are:


Marcarson W. What are the components to the MIND Diet? J Acad Nutr Diet 2015;115:1744.

Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y, Sacks FM, et al. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement 2015;11:1007-14.

Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y, Sacks FM, et al. MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging. Alzheimers Dement 2015;11:1015-22.

Toledo E, Salas-Salvado J, Donat-Vargas C, et al. Mediterranean diet and invasive breast cáncer risk among women at high cardiovascular risk in the PREDIMED trial: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Sep 14:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Scarmeas N, Stern Y, Mayeux R, et al. Mediterranean diet and mild cognitive impairment. Arch Neurol 2009;66:216-25.

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