The MIND Diet Explained – How Does It Help With Mental Function?

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The famous MIND Diet explained – combat emotional eating and cravings with this Mediterranean based diet. Get the facts and start the MIND diet today!

Originally created to reduce the risks of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the MIND diet has had significant success. Not only does it slow the loss of brain and mental function, it encourages a healthy lifestyle for all the practitioners.

We have the MIND diet explained, broken down and supported with hard facts. Here is everything you need to know!

MIND Diet | Shutterstock

The Mind diet explained

Meals sourced from the Mediterranean are associated to tougher bones, a  healthy heart, and a longer life. Added with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, the Mediterranean diet may sound too good to be true.

However, new studies have shown that a diet rich in Mediterranean foods can also significantly lower your risk for dementia.

Lead author, Claire McEvoy, from the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine, states, “Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging.”

Since the study was conducted on an older population nationwide, McEvoy said in a statement that “the findings are relevant to the general public.”

Co-author of the recent book, “Super Genes” with Deepok Chopra, Rudolph Tanzi, said “35% is a greater than expected decrease for a lifestyle choice, I am not surprised.”

Tanzi also emphasizes that “the activity of our genes is highly dependent of four main factors: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. Of these, perhaps diet is most important.”

MIND Diet explained MIND Diet | Sigmund

What Was The Study Investigating?

McEvoy’s study investigated the eating habits of about 6,000 elder Americans with the average age of 68. Accounting for personal, lifestyle, physical and mental health, the team discovered that those who followed MIND (Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), had a 30-35% lower risk for cognitive impairment.

The longer people that stayed on those diets, the better they functioned cognitively, said McEvoy. Furthermore, those who marginally followed the diet also may have benefited, but by a smaller margin.

An estimate of 18%, that they are less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

Mediterranean | Sam Abtahi

So, What are Mediterranean and MIND Diets?

Massive amounts of beef shish kebab, rice, hummus and pita bread, will not cut it in this diet.

The actual Mediterranean diet is very simple, all plant-based cooking, and the main focus of each meal is on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with some nuts and a lot of olive oil. Extra virgin that is.

Refined sugar, flour, butter and other non-plant-based fat should rarely be consumed, if at all.

Red meat is a rarity in this diet, but is more common in flavoring a dish. Most meals include poultry, dairy, and eggs, but even then, they are in much smaller portion than in the Western diet. Fish though, are a staple in this diet.

The MIND diet however, takes the best of brain foods from the Mediterranean diet and melds them with the infamous salt reducing DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

MIND stresses focus on eating from 10 different healthy food groups and rejecting unhealthy foods from five distinct groups.

MIND was first designed and developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

Followers of the MIND diet eliminate butter, margarine, red meats, cheeses, fried or fast food, and lastly, sweets. A minimum of 6 servings of leafy green vegetables must be consumed each week, in addition to 1 serving a day of another vegetable.

Three servings a day of whole grains is also non-negotiable.

In addition, MIND dieters also requires 3 servings of beans, 2 or more servings of fruits or berries. Also, two servings of chicken or turkey, and one serving of fish per week.

Olive oil is the main ingredient for every dish. Drinking a glass of wine a day is not a requirement, but also a little more than optional.

the MIND Diet
Greens | Nadine Primeau

The Statistics Found Behind This Diet Are Shocking

In 2015, Morris found that out of the 923 Chicago-area seniors who followed the diet had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s. Those who followed it loosely lowered dementia risk by around 35%. Additional studies showed similar results.

A three year study is currently under commission to further prove the connection between the MIND diet and dementia risk.

More Evidence

Another study explains the impacts of the MIND diet. Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine tracked 7,057 women, age 71, for 10 years. Findings showed that participants who followed the diet closely had a 34% reduced risk of forming Alzheimer’s disease.

Research on 2,223 Dementia Free Swedish over the past six years who used the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) diet showed a higher level of cognitive function. Opposed to their counterparts, who followed diets rich in processed and fatty foods.

The NPDP diet avoids sweets, fatty, and processed foods. The diet focuses on eating non-root veggies; fruits such as apples, pears, and peaches; pasta or rice; poultry, fish, and vegetable oils.

Lastly, a study on MRI brain scans of 330 cognitively normal adults, at an average age of 79 years, found that foods that increases inflammation in the body.

Sweets, processed, fried, and fatty foods had also increased the chances for a shrinking brain and pronounced lower cognitive function.

mind diet explainedLeafy Greens | Deryn Macey


Although scientifically controlled experiments are still required to empirically prove this causal link, a relationship is apparent.

Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs, Keith Fargo said “Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline…The size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function.”

Looking  for MIND Diet approved recipes? Check out our Napa Cabbage Slaw recipe!

Additionally, head over to Tasty, where we feature MIND Diet approved recipes and other delicious meals!

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