fish, nuts, olive oil fish, nuts, olive oil Foods like fish, nuts, avocado and olive oil are essential components of the MIND diet. (Photo: Tina Larsson / Shutterstock)

What is a MIND diet, and how can it help ward off Alzheimer's?

Learn about a new diet that combines 2 highly regarded nutrition plans into one.

Can a diet prevent dementia? New research on the MIND diet, a combination of the popular Mediterranean and DASH diets, is showing promising signs that better nutrition can, indeed, help save our brains.

Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately, according to a paper published online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. And just this week, the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet was ranked the No. 2 overall diet by U.S. News and World Report.

So how do you follow this diet, exactly? It starts with least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day – along with a glass of wine, which may explain why it's such an easy diet to follow. Snacks are mostly nuts, legumes and berries. Fish is prescribed once a week, and foods like cheese and red meat should be limited to less than a serving a day.

For those who are already fans of the Mediterranean diet – rich in vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, olive oil and the aforementioned red wine – the MIND hybrid shouldn't be much of a stretch. Both diets boast the ability to reduce risk of several diseases, including breast cancer and stroke, and both are attributed to an overall healthy lifestyle. For its part, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which means it's a highly personalized plan primarily focused on lowering high blood pressure.

blueberriesLove snacking, but trying to eat healthy? Snacking on berries may be the answer. (Photo: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock)

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for [Alzheimer's],” said Dr. Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist who developed the MIND diet with a team of colleagues at Rush. “I think that will motivate people.”

Furthermore, Morris and her team found that it's not just about how well you follow this brain-healthy diet – it's about how long. Simply put, the longer you do the diet, the less likely you are to develop Alzheimer's. “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time," she said.

For ideas on how to adopt the Mediterranean-DASH diet, view our vast collection of recipes in our Israeli Kitchen.

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What is a MIND diet, and how can it help ward off Alzheimer's?
Learn about a new diet that combines 2 highly regarded nutrition plans into one.