A new diet is being circulated among researchers aimed to help stroke survivors. These patients are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population, and scientists are hoping the diet will help slow cognitive decline.
It’s called the MIND diet—short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet, created by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets—and it even includes wine. Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
The diet promotes foods that are essential to brain health, including vegetables, fish and olive oil. It’s a well-crafted, deeply investigated diet that researchers say is based on “information from years of research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain”
With further research, doctors are hoping the diet can help reduce Alzheimer’s risk in seniors. They claim even people who moderately adhered had reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.
What’s the MIND diet?
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 "brain-healthy food groups" and five unhealthy groups—red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day—along with a glass of wine—snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. The diet also specifies limiting intake of the designated unhealthy foods, limiting butter to less than 1 teaspoons a day and eating less than five servings a week of sweets and pastries, and less than one serving per week of whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food.
"I like to think of the MIND diet as a way to supercharge the nutritional content of what we eat,” said Dr. Laurel J. Cherian, who is leading a study on the diet. “The goal is to emphasize foods that will not only lower our risk of heart attacks and stroke, but make our brains as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.”