How to Maintain Brain Health with the MIND Diet

Publish Date December 23, 2022

What is the MIND Diet?

Whether you have family history of Alzheimer’s, you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, or you’re simply trying to keep your mind sharp and prevent cognitive decline, the MIND diet is a good place to start.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, and stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurological Delay. The MIND diet combines principles from both diets and aims to reduce dementia and slow the decline in brain health as we age. It emphasizes specific foods based on their nutrient profiles and properties. Compared to other diets, the MIND diet is relatively simple, having only 10 foods to focus on and 5 foods to limit. And here’s what sets it apart from the DASH and Mediterranean diets: The specific serving size amounts have been assigned to each of the recommended foods based on their properties and brain-protective effects.

Health Benefits of the MIND Diet

The foods recommended on the MIND diet are sources of antioxidants, phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids protect cells from free radicals and may prevent oxidative stress, which is linked to heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Phytonutrients, such as flavonoids, are natural chemicals or compounds produced by plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation in the brain has been linked to age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their ability to reduce inflammation and cognitive decline in those with Alzheimer’s. Individuals who’ve experienced brain damage could benefit from following the MIND diet since it may slow cognitive decline following a stroke.

What foods are the focus of the MIND Diet?

  • Leafy green vegetables – kale, spinach, romaine and collards
  • All other vegetables
  • Fruit, especially berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
  • Nuts –aim for a variety to ensure optimal nutrient intake
  • Olive Oil
  • Whole Grains – oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and 100% whole wheat bread
  • Fish – salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel
  • Beans – all beans, lentils and soybeans
  • Poultry – chicken or turkey
  • Wine – red or white, but limit to one glass daily

What foods should be consumed less on the MIND Diet?

  • Butter and Margarine
  • Cheese
  • Red Meat – including beef, pork and lamb
  • Fried Foods
  • Sweets and Pastries

How to Start Eating MINDfully:

While there are no set meal plans for the MIND diet, let’s take a look at serving sizes for the 10 recommended foods.

1 serving daily of leafy green vegetables - Add greens to wraps, sandwiches or a salad.
2 or more servings daily of all other vegetables - Try stir-frying, raw with dip, or adding to soups and chili.
2 or more servings per week of berries - Blend in a smoothie, place on top of yogurt or add to a salad.
5 or more servings per week of nuts - Sprinkle on top of a salad, combine in a trail mix or add to granola.
Use daily olive oil - For sautéing vegetables or mixed in a dressing.
3 or more servings per day of whole grains - Use oats in a parfait, brown rice and quinoa in a grain bowl, or whole noodles in soups.
1 or more servings per week of fish - Bake, grill or shred on top of a salad.
4 or more servings per week of beans - Use as a side or a topping, or mixed in a salad.
2 or more servings per week of poultry - Use in place of beef for burgers, meatloaf or meatballs.
1 glass per day of wine

Try these Simple MIND Diet Recipes selected by our dieticians.

Quinoa Yogurt Pancakes with Vanilla Cinnamon Peaches - Kroger
Quick Mediterranean Chili - Kroger
Quinoa Spinach Salad - Kroger

Sign up for a Telenutrition appointment with a Kroger Health registered dietitian, who can help educate you on how to prepare and incorporate the 10 recommended MIND diet foods into these and more recipes.