According to a new study, a regimen termed the MIND diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 53%, compared to individuals not on the diet. In addition, people who followed the diet “moderately” experience a risk reduction of about 35%.
The MIND diet is a blend of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke. In a previous study, the investigators found that the MIND diet was associated with slower cognitive decline. In the new study, they assessed the impact of the diet on Alzheimer’s disease. The study group comprised 923 individuals, aged 58 to 98 years who were followed for an average 4.5 years. Diet was evaluated by a food frequency questionnaire.
In the new study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. Individuals with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also experienced reductions in Alzheimer’s disease; however, they experienced negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets. The researchers note that the MIND diet is also easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet, which requires daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables.
The MIND diet is comprised of 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups”: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine; it also includes five unhealthy groups to avoid: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. With the MIND diet, an individual should consume the following: at least three servings of whole grains, a salad, and one other vegetable every day, together with a glass of wine; snacks most days on nuts; eat beans every other day; consume poultry and berries at least twice a week; and eat fish at least once a week. However, to reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk, the person following the diet must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).
Berries are an essential component of the MIND diet. The study authors note that blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain; in addition, past studies on cognitive function have found that strawberries promote brain health.