As a refresher, the MIND diet exists at the intersection of the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet. It was specifically developed with cognitive health in mind. “Note the play on words here,” pointed out certified dietitian and nutritionist Isabel Smith, R.D., CDN. “It technically stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, but the health benefits are brain-heavy.”
The diet places emphasis on specific subsets of both of the other diets, based on research into which foods support brain health. “While all vegetables are permitted on the MIND diet, it places emphasis on leafy green vegetables,” writes Smith, “Another thing that makes the MIND diet stand out is its recommended fruit intake. This diet emphasizes eating berries—specifically blueberries and strawberries—as the primary source of fruit and doesn’t emphasize any other fruit.” It also focuses on nuts and fish, for their own unique brain health benefits (hello, omega-3s!).
During a recent recording of the mindbodygreen podcast, neuroscientist Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D., referred to an earlier study: “As of 2015, we know that the Mediterranean diet combined with the DASH diet, which is now called the MIND diet,” she says, “can help slow neurodegenerative decline in people who stay on it for as much as seven and a half years.” The 2015 paper she refers to was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, and found that any of the three diets may help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.