Many of work hard to live a healthy lifestyle. And for many of us it begins with healthy eating. But with so many diet plans available which one do we choose?
The MIND diet emphasizes healthy food groups while limiting unhealthy foods. The healthy food group includes two or more daily servings of vegetables, of which one serving is a leafy green; three servings per day of whole grains; a serving of beans three times weekly; one ounce of nuts/nut butters and a half cup of berries five days per week; two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day; poultry twice weekly, and at least one fish meal weekly.
The unhealthy food limitations include no more than one teaspoon a day of butter, eating less than five servings a week of sweets and pastries, less than four servings a week of red meat, no more than two ounces of whole-fat cheese weekly, and no more than one meal of fried foods per week.
One advantage of the MIND diet is that benefits have been shown for people following the diet in moderation – meaning one does not have to achieve the target goal for each food in order to gain brain health benefits. For example, a person who is having difficulty limiting intake of red meat to less than four servings per week could still be considered a healthy eater, provided they were reaching the goal of at least one serving of leafy green vegetables each day.
Is healthy eating easy?
“The MIND diet is about changing an eating pattern over the long-term, not following a fad diet,” said Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, lead dietitian for the MIND Diet Intervention to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease at Rush. Common foods that are easy to obtain can fit the diet’s specifications, such as a spinach salad with walnuts, dried cranberries and a balsamic-olive oil dressing topped with a grilled chicken breast and whole grain roll as a side. A few whole grain crackers topped with canned albacore tuna can fulfill the weekly seafood requirement.
“Because the MIND diet calls for daily servings of vegetables, a good strategy is to begin each main meal with a plate of salad or other veggies first,” Ventrelle added. “Even during celebrations or special occasions, a person can fill up on the healthier options before eating other foods. This can be helpful with controlling portions of more indulgent foods, since it takes 20 minutes for the brain to receive the hormonal message that the stomach is full.”
In addition, the MIND diet’s focus on berries as the best fruit and consumption of just one serving of fish/seafood per week is unique compared to the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which specify three to four daily servings of fruit, and the Mediterranean diet’s two or more weekly servings of fish.
Not only does the MIND diet seem to provide long-term protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, it also promotes overall health, including cardiovascular benefits.
We have long known that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain. The fact that adherence to the MIND diet may promote protection against cardiovascular disease is consistent with other studies that have shown positive vascular effects based on diet, and could be another possible reason that the MIND diet protects brain health.
Source: Rush University Medical Center