Scientists Say This Diet Reduces Alzheimer’s Risk By 53 Percent

Updated: Jan. 23, 2017

Eat your way to a sharper brain.

sept-2016-genius-eating-planQuickhoney for Reader's Digest

Scientific efforts to develop a new eating plan to substantially reduce Alzheimer’s risk may be working. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago developed the MIND diet over a two-year period. They took elements of two proven heart-healthy regimens—the Mediterranean diet and the blood-pressure-slashing DASH diet (aka Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Then they consulted the latest human and animal nutrition studies and tailored a combo designed to boost brain health. (MIND is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.) Finally they tested the eating plan on 960 volunteers over four and a half years. The MIND diet reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 53 percent among those who followed the plan strictly and by 35 percent for those who followed it moderately well, according to research published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The brain-boosting benefits come down to two general principles: Limit foods that are high in saturated fats and calories but have low nutritional value, and eat more foods that offer nutrients that help your brain, says Martha Clare Morris, the plan’s chief creator and the director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush. “The top nutrients are vitamin E; B vitamins; omega-3s; some of the carotenoids, lutein in particular; and flavonoids,” she explains.

Here are the 10 foods to eat and five foods to limit every week, which make up the core of the MIND diet.

Do Eat …
• Six or more servings of leafy-green vegetables every week. (That’s almost a salad a day.)
• At least one serving of another vegetable every day.
• More than two servings of berries every week.
• More than five servings of nuts every week. (Try them as a daily snack.)
• Extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter and as your primary cooking oil.
• More than three servings of whole grains every day.
• Fish that hasn’t been fried for at least one meal every week.
• Beans for more than three meals every week (that is, eat beans roughly every other day).
• Poultry for more than two meals every week.
• A glass of wine every day (though Morris says there’s no need to drink this if you’re avoiding alcohol).

Do Limit …

• Butter to one tablespoon every day.
• Cheese to less than one serving every week.
• Red meat to fewer than four meals every week.
• Fried foods and fast food to less than one serving every week.
• Sweets and pastries to fewer than five servings every week.

MORE: The Best Brain Food You Should Be Eating