Photo by The Voorhes

When it comes to eating well, there's solid research on what to consume for all kinds of health goals. Want to protect your heart? There's a diet for that. Want to cut your diabetes risk, trim belly fat or increase energy? Doctors know what foods to recommend in these cases as well. But what about a meal plan to help stave off Alzheimer's disease? Now you're covered there, too—with a new way to eat that combines the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) nutrition plan. It's called the MIND diet (which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). In a recent study, people who followed the MIND diet had as much as a 53 percent reduction in risk for Alzheimer's. And even if you sneak in the occasional cheat day, you'll still reap rewards; adhering to the plan even part of the time decreased risk up to 35 percent. Consider the following foods for thought....

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki

Leafy Greens

Any genuinely healthy eating plan is going to be heavy on veggies. The MIND diet places a special emphasis on leafy greens, for good reason: Two large-scale studies of older adults found that eating more than two servings of veggies a day was associated with slower cognitive decline overall, with leafy greens having the strongest effect. Participants in one of the studies who consumed more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared to have a level of brain function equivalent to that of people five years younger. Leafy greens generally contain more vitamin E than other vegetables, and the nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that may help keep neurons healthy. For an extra boost, drizzle some olive oil on your salad. Its healthy fats increase absorption of vitamin E.

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki


If you like to add fruit to your cereal or yogurt, go for blueberries and strawberries—they're clear winners. A study of roughly 16,000 women age 70 and older revealed that eating at least one serving of blueberries or two servings of strawberries a week delayed cognitive aging by up to two and a half years compared with those who ate less of either fruit. The antiaging effects may be attributed to anthocyanins, antioxidants that may help protect neurons in regions of the brain related to learning and memory.

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki


The Mediterranean diet can include a whopping six servings of fish a week, but if that's too much for you, don't stress: The scientists behind the MIND diet found that eating fish even once a week can help lower the risk of Alzheimer's. And according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, consuming baked or broiled fish at least once a week may increase gray matter, a type of brain tissue that diminishes with the disease.

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki


Multiple studies have found that drinking vino in moderation may help your heart, but the good news doesn't stop there. New research suggests it may also help prevent cognitive decline. A 2014 British Journal of Nutrition study, which followed healthy subjects ages 43 to 70 for five years, discovered that red wine drinkers who consumed about one and a half glasses per day experienced the least memory loss compared with those who drank less. Cheers!
MIND grocery list

Photo by monticello/iStock/Thinkstock

Your Brain-Boosting Grocery List

The MIND diet includes ten brain-healthy food groups, but you don't need to eat each daily.

Every day:
□ Whole grains (three or more servings)
□ Leafy greens (one serving)
□ Other veggies (one or more servings)
□ Glass of wine (opt for red)

Most days:
□ Nuts (like almonds and walnuts)
□ Olive oil (as main cooking oil)

Every other day:
□ Beans

Twice a week or more:
□ Blueberries or strawberries
□ Poultry

At least once a week:
□ Fish

Limit these foods:

Butter (less than one tablespoon per day)
Fast food and fried food (less than one serving per week)
Full-fat cheese (less than one serving per week)
Red meat (less than four times per week)
Pastries and sweets (less than five servings per week)