3 Delicious MIND Diet Recipes

holding fork with brain-shaped handle and healthy foods on fork 3d illustration

Do you ever think about your brain and what you’re doing to help protect your brain cells? Your genetics, age, environment, and health habits offer clues to your risks of getting brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. The MIND diet is a style of eating that focuses on food that helps promote brain health and longevity.

 

What is the MIND diet?

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay) diet combines principles from the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) and the Mediterranean diets.

 

Since the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2060, researchers are focused on understanding the link between nutrition and cognitive decline.1

 

Research has shown that both the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet have positive health effects and can help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.2 3

 

Traditionally, a Mediterranean diet focuses on eating mainly whole, minimally processed plant foods with an emphasis on healthy fats. The DASH diet also focuses on plant foods, like fruits and vegetables, but it encourages low-fat dairy products and reduced intake of sodium, saturated fats, red meat, and foods with high sugar contents.

 

The MIND diet combines aspects and promotes eating plant-based foods, while limiting intake of animal-based and highly saturated fatty foods. It divides foods into two groups: foods to include and foods to avoid or minimize.

 

Benefits of the MIND diet

While there are pharmaceutical therapies that can help manage Alzheimer’s and other health conditions, they fall short in preventing and treating brain diseases. Although diet is not the only factor that affects brain health, it can play a role in preventing and slowing the development of these diseases.

 

The MIND diet is relatively new, with the first peer-reviewed paper published in 2015, so research investigating its effects is still growing. However, there have already been several studies suggesting that this type of diet can be beneficial.

smiling woman pouring a drink for happy senior woman at dinner table

One observational study of older adults showed that people who followed the MIND diet the closest had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.4 Other researchers evaluated the association of the MIND diet with death over a 12-year period and found that those who followed the MIND diet had the lowest risk of mortality.5

 

In addition, several studies have shown an association between the MIND diet and the following:

  • Slower cognitive decline
  • Lower rates of cognitive impairment
  • Lower risk of Parkinson’s disease6

 

Foods to eat on the MIND diet

Here are the general guidelines for the 10 foods the MIND diet encourages you to eat:

  • 6 or more servings of green, leafy vegetables per week
  • Other vegetables besides green, leafy foods at least one time per day
  • Berries at least twice a week
  • 5 servings or more of nuts per week
  • Olive oil as the primary type of oil in your cooked meals
  • At least three servings of whole grains per day
  • Two servings of fish per week
  • At least 4 servings of beans each week
  • Chicken or turkey twice per week (non-fried options)
  • no more than one glass of wine glass daily

 

According to the research, eating more of these foods along with limiting consumption of butter, cheese, sweets, and fried foods has been shown to slow cognitive decline.7

 

Is the MIND diet right for you?

Since it was created to reduce the risk of dementia and slow the loss of brain functions, the MIND diet can benefit anyone who follows it.

 

It encourages a wide range of foods and is not highly restrictive with calories or one food group. The foods and guidelines may promote good brain health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

 

If you’re looking for a lifestyle and way of eating that focuses on maintaining your brain’s health as you age, the MIND diet is a good place to start.

 

3 MIND Diet Recipes

berry smoothie next to berries and flowers on table

Now that you know more about the MIND diet and how it can assist your brain health, the next step is to find some great recipes! Below are 3 delicious recipes that incorporate healthy ingredients that are MIND-diet approved.

 

Berry Smoothie

Berries are an essential food in the MIND diet. One of the easiest ways for many people to get enough berries in their meals is to make a smoothie. All berries, but especially dark berries like blueberries, are loaded with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. This smoothie comes together in 5 minutes and contains just 3 ingredients. Look for yogurt that has 13-18 grams of sugar per serving. Keep in mind that this recipe makes 1 serving but can easily be doubled if you’re sharing.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 (5.3 oz) container mixed berry Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup 100% pomegranate juice

 

Directions

  1. Place the 3 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you like your smoothie thicker, use less juice.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

 

 

Interested in getting personalized data to help you make better food choices? Learn how the ZYTO Balance can help.

 

Vegan Curry Lentil and Kale Soup

This vegan soup has several nutrients that support your brainstarting with the lentils, which are loaded with folate. It’s important to have enough of folate because low levels are associated with cognitive decline and other forms of dementia. Other healthy foods in this dish include kale and carrots, which are loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This soup offers a punch of flavor without the spike in blood sugar.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste (can also use green or yellow)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup reduced fat coconut milk

 

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic, and carrots. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Stir in red curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then add kale.
  4. Cover the soup and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender.
  5. Remove the lid and stir in coconut milk. Heat for 2 to 3 minutes, just enough time to heat the milk. Serve.

 

Salmon with Quinoa and Spinach

salmon with quinoa dish - mind diet recipes

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a type of fat that makes up components of cell membranes and facilitates communication between brain cells. These fatty acids play a role in brain development and health. The fiber from the whole-grain quinoa and the antioxidants from the spinach help make this a brain-boosting healthy meal.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
  • 8 ounces salmon, raw, cut into 2–4-ounce pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • dash of salt
  • 1 ounce feta cheese

 

Directions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. Typically, for 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa, you’ll want to use 1 cup of water—this will yield about 2 cups of cooked quinoa.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, rub each piece of salmon with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper.
  3. Heat a pan to medium-high heat. Then, once the pan is hot, add the salmon skin side up. Cook for 3 minutes, each side.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic over medium heat in another pan. Once hot, add the baby spinach and sauté until it’s bright green and wilted.
  5. When the quinoa is soft, mix in the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt. Stir and then add the feta cheese.
  6. Serve salmon over the top of the quinoa and spinach.

 

 

 

About Julie Harris
Julie Harris is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and health and wellness writer. She has experience working with digital health companies for the past 10 years. Julie is passionate about sharing information based on science. When she isn’t working, she’s in the kitchen baking something sweet to eat or running on the trails.

 

 

 

Sources:

1. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.” US Department of Health & Human Services. Cdc.gov.

2. Panagiotakos, D.B., C. Pitsavos, et al. “Adherence to Mediterranean food pattern predicts the prevalence of hypertension, hepercholesterolemia, diabetes and obesity, among healthy adults; the accuracy of the MedDietScore.” Preventative Medicine 44, no. 4 (2007): 335-340.

3. Salehi-Abargouei, A., Z. Maghsoudi, et al. “Effects of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-style diet on fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease.” Nutrition 29, no. 4 (2013): 611-618.

4. Morris, M.C., C.C. Tangney, et al. “MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal 11, no. 9 (2015): 1007-1014.

5. Corley, J. “Adherence to the MIND diet is associated with 12-year all-cause mortality in older adults.” Public Health Nutrition (2020): 1-10.

6. Loef, M., & H. Walach. “Fruit, vegetables and prevention of cognitive decline or dementia: a systematic review of cohort studies.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 16, no. 7 (2012): 626-630.

7. Morris, M.C., C.C. Tangney, et al. “MIND” diet slows cognitive decline with aging.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal 11, no. 9 (2015): 1015-1022.

 

The information provided in this article is intended to improve, not replace, the direct relationship between the client (or site visitor) and healthcare professionals.

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