THE MIND diet — partially based on the Mediterranean and DASH diets, has been touted for encouraging the consumption of plant-based foods, and limiting the intake of animal and high-saturated fat foods, with a special focus on brain foods like nuts, berries, fish and vegetables.
A hybrid of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean diet, a recent study has now shown that in addition to being super healthy, the MIND diet may reduce Alzheimer's dementia risk and slow cognitive decline.
The study showed that in people autopsied, those who consumed foods from these plant-based diets had fewer of the hallmark signs of Alzheimer's.
The study, Association of Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and Mediterranean Diets With Alzheimer Disease Pathology, published in the journal Neurology on March 8, found that the MIND and Mediterranean diets are associated with less post-mortem Alzheimer's disease pathology, and among dietary components, green leafy vegetables inversely correlate with Alzheimer's disease pathology.
What are the MIND, DASH and Mediterranean diets and why should you hop on this wagon?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet emphasises plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. It replaces butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil, and uses herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods. Red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, while fish should be on the menu twice a week. Research shows this diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and many other chronic conditions.
The DASH diet is a healthy eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium — and is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. These nutrients help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars. Studies have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks.
The MIND diet combines both these diets to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health. It has weekly targets, to include green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, poultry and wine.
The theory is that eating more of these recommended foods and less of the foods that the diet recommends avoiding — butter/margarine, cheese, red meat, fried foods, pastries and sweets — has been associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and better brain function over time.