There isn’t a magic bullet that can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. But there’s a diet may be the closest thing we have. It’s called the MIND diet, and it was designed by experts at Rush University Medical Center to slow down the brain changes that raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a progressive brain disorder that destroys memory, language skills, and eventually the ability to take care of oneself.

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. As the name implies, it draws from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, two approaches to eating with proven health benefits. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating healthy, natural foods while limiting unhealthy fats and red meat. The DASH diet (an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) focuses reducing sodium intake and other ways to lower blood pressure.

What’s different about the MIND diet? It specifically includes foods and nutrients that promote brain health. Early research shows it works. A recent study found it lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in those who followed it closely. Those who didn’t follow it closely still had a 35% risk reduction.

Not bad for an eating plan that’s relatively easy to follow and won’t leave you hungry. Here are the general guidelines for what to eat, how much and how often:

  • Green leafy vegetables: 6 or more servings a week
  • Other vegetables: 1 or more servings a day
  • Nuts: 5 servings a week
  • Berries: 2 or more servings a week
  • Beans: 3 or more servings a week
  • Whole grains: 3 or more servings a day
  • Fish: 1 serving a week
  • Poultry: 2 servings a week
  • Olive oil: Make this your cooking oil
  • Wine: 1 glass a day

The MIND diet also calls for cutting back on foods we know aren’t great for us. But you don’t need to cut them out completely:

  • Red meat: Less than 4 servings week
  • Butter and margarine: Less than 1 tablespoon a day
  • Cheese: Less than 1 serving a week
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than 5 servings a week
  • Fried or fast food: Less than 1 serving a week

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