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The MIND Diet - Purpose, Diet, Components, Benefits

Written by
Deepiha. D
and medically reviewed by Sumiya Sulthana

Published on May 07, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 12, 2022   -  5 min read


The MIND diet was formulated for brain health and to prevent cognitive decline. Read the following article to understand the MIND diet in detail.


A diet is the amount of food consumed by a person. A proper diet should contain wholesome nutrition for the health and comfort of the body. A balanced diet is that which provides an adequate amount of all the essential nutrients for healthy living.

There are various diets classified according to the specific need of the person to improve particular health or weight management strategy.

What Is a Mind Diet?

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet was created by a team at Rush university medical center, headed by Martha Clare Morris (A nutritional epidemiologist). The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH ( dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet.

  • The Mediterranean diet inclines to the eating habits of the people near the mediterranean sea. The primary aspect of this diet is the high consumption of olive oil. It has been recognized as a healthy diet plan that reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  • The DASH diet was promoted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the United States, to prevent and control hypertension.

What Is the Purpose of the Mind Diet?

As the name goes, the purpose of the MIND diet is to intervene with the degeneration of the neurons in the brain. The MIND diet was formulated to maintain and improve brain health. Thus, protecting the memory and other important mental functions. The MIND diet has the potential to significantly lower a person's risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows that the MIND diet reduced the risk of Alzheimer's disease up to 53 % in people who followed the diet strictly and about 35 % in those people who were in moderate accordance.

One of the most interesting aspects of this diet is that it has a positive impact on people even if they do not adhere to the diet chart meticulously.

The overall nutritive plan of the MIND diet is to:

The MIND diet covers 15 groups of food. They are discussed under two categories,

  1. Brain-healthy foods.

  2. Brain-harming foods.

What Are the Brain-Healthy Foods of the Mind Diet?

The components of the MIND diet include ten brain-healthy food groups such as

  1. Green leafy vegetables (spinach, mustard greens, kale, collards) - Half cup of six servings in a week.

  2. Other vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, and turnips) - Half cup of one serving per day.

  3. Nuts (almonds, cashew, walnut, hazelnut) - 30 grams of five servings in a week.

  4. Berries (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry) - Half cup of two servings in a week.

  5. Beans (black beans, white beans, red beans, kidney beans) - Half cup of three servings in a week.

  6. Whole grains (rice, wheat, barley, oats) - Half cup of three servings per day.

  7. Fish (salmon, cod, tuna) - 100 to 150 grams of one serving in a week.

  8. Poultry (chicken, turkey) - 100 to 150 grams of two servings in a week.

  9. Olive oil is the primary oil source in the MIND diet. Extra virgin olive oil is more beneficial. Used with vegetables and slices of bread. It is recommended to have at least two spoons per day.

  10. Wine (non-alcoholic purple grape juice can be a substitute) - 150 ml of one serving per day.

The servings mentioned are the minimum quantity, and it is suggested to have at least the minimum quantity or greater than that.

What Are the Brain-Harming Foods of the Mind Diet?

The five brain-harming foods proposed in the MIND diet are,

  • Red meat and processed meats.

  • Butter and margarine.

  • Whole-fat cheese.

  • Fried and fast foods.

  • Sweets and pastries.

The recommendation is not to completely cut off the above foods. They can be consumed occasionally in a limited quantity.

How Does Mind Diet Help in Brain Health?

The underlying mechanism of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease is due to the disruption of communication between the brain nerve cells. This occurs because of abnormal extracellular deposition of proteins (plaque and tangle) in the brain. The process of plaque and tangle formation is caused by accumulated damage to brain cells as a result of oxidative stress and inflammation. The major nutrients consolidated in the recommended foods of the MIND diet are the sole reason to maintain brain health. To brief it out,

  • Antioxidants play a significant role in preventing the oxidative damage of brain cells. Vitamin E is one of the primary antioxidant nutrients. Others include carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Some of the rich sources of these antioxidant nutrients are nuts, berries (especially blueberry), green leafy, and other cruciferous vegetables.

  • Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the brain’s normal functioning. Sources of vitamin B12 are poultry and certain fish.

  • In addition, vitamin B6 and vitamin B9 (folate) helps to reduce inflammation or fat deposition. These essential vitamins are contributed by beans, legumes, and whole grains.

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain that are important for learning and memory. The healthy sources of unsaturated fats are vegetable oils (olive oil), nuts, and fish.

Further, the MIND diet also highlights the importance of avoiding certain food groups. They are based on the fact that they contribute to a high intake of saturated fats, simple sugars, salt, and advanced glycation end products, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and memory loss. Therefore, sources of these dietary elements like red meat, dairy products, fried foods, and pastries are avoided.

What Are the Benefits of the Mind Diet?

  • Reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Slow down the brain aging process.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Improve and maintain heart health.

  • Keep blood sugar in check.

  • Lose weight.

  • Healthy lifestyle and longer lifespan.


Adherence to the MIND diet needs a definitive plan. The progress of the changes should be monitored. Research indicates that the MIND diet may be more protective against cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet also has additional benefits on heart health, diabetes, overall nutrition, and wellness. But more evidence is required to draw finer conclusions on the MIND diet. It is advisable for a person to consult a doctor or dietician before prioritizing a dietary plan.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
12 Dec 2022  -  5 min read




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