What do blueberries, salmon, cashews, and olive oil have in common? They can all help protect you from Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago developed a new eating plan—the MIND diet—that dramatically reduces the risk of the degenerative illness.
According to a study recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, patients who followed the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer's by a whopping 53 percent, and those who only followed the diet moderately well still lowered their risk by 34 percent. The MIND diet can also reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke and dementia.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the diet hues closely to the eating plans prescribed by many health experts: plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, olive oil, and red wine. Researchers developed it by combining aspects of the Mediterranean diet and DASH, an eating plan designed for patients with hypertension.
Though scientists can't pinpoint exactly what causes Alzheimer's, they do know it's often hereditary. That means the MIND diet offers hope for relatives of those stricken with the incurable disease.
“With late-onset [Alzheimer's disease], with the older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris said in a statement. "Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets A.D. and who doesn’t."
To try out the MIND diet for yourself, simply eat plenty of the 10 foods researchers identified as "brain-healthy:"
But it's not just about what you eat—it's also about what you don't. So researchers recommend staying away from excess sugar and fat. The items below are on the "avoid" list:
- Red meats
- Butter and stick margarine
- Pastries and sweets
- Fried or fast food
And what about that wine on the list? Don't think this means you have an excuse for guzzling a whole bottle with dinner—the MIND dietary guidelines recommend only one glass a day. A typical day of eating on the diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad, one other vegetable, and snacking on nuts. For protein, dieters should eat beans every other day, poultry twice a week, and fish at least once a week.
Eating berries twice a week is also important for brain health, researchers said. Blueberries got a special shoutout from researchers as an especially powerful brain food.
The good news? Many of the brain-healthy foods mentioned are easy to find and inexpensive, making this diet easy on your wallet, too. Want to save even more? Check out the great deals on whole grains, nuts, beans and canned seafood on Thrive Market.
Photo credit: Sandra via Flickr