Preventing Alzheimer’s: How to eat on the MIND diet

You’ve probably heard about the Mediterranean diet— an eating plan that emphasizes consuming vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, and even wine in moderation—that has been shown to improve weight and even cardiovascular health. What may not have popped up on your radar yet is the MIND diet, which derives from the Mediterranean diet and shares many of its characteristics, including the ability to help reduce Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study compares how following three different diets— the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet, and the popular DASH diet— can affect Alzheimer’s risk. The research followed nearly 1,000 senior men and women for about five years. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet saw the biggest benefit, with a 54 percent reduced risk of developing the disease, followed by the MIND diet, whose followers saw a 53 percent reduced risk, and the DASH diet users, who saw a 39 percent reduced risk. Those results were independent of factors like age, sex, physical activity or obesity.

The findings suggest that even modest changes like incorporating fruits and nuts over sweetened and refined energy bars for snacks, or an occasional fresh fish entrée with a side of leafy green vegetables, can mitigate some of the scourges associated with the modern Western diet. With appropriately less emphasis on the simply caloric constituents of our diet, we can be mindful of the fallacy of the calorie— and mindful well into our senior years.

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