In ranking the best heart-healthy diets, U.S. News & World Report declared a diet designed to help lower the risk of cognitive decline to also be one of the top contenders to maintain cardiovascular health. That makes the MIND diet — and meal plans on which it is based — a smart choice for adults seeking the optimum in both heart and brain health.
At top of list near Mediterranean and DASH diets.
U.S. News & World Report compared opinions from a panel of diet and nutrition experts to rank 41 diets in categories such as weight loss, diabetes control, healthy eating and so on. In terms of heart health, the Mediterranean diet was tied with the Ornish diet for the #1 ranking, and the hypertension fighting DASH diet came in 3rd place.
Interestingly, a diet that combines the most brain healthy aspects of both the Mediterranean and DASH diets — the MIND diet — was tied for 4th place in helping mitigate the risk of heart attack and heart disease.
MIND diet shown to lower risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 53%.
A recent study indicated that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.
Developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and her colleagues at Rush University, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. According to Dr. Morris, the MIND diet is easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and three to four daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables.
Morris is excited that “people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. I think that will motivate people.”
Dividing the good foods from the bad.
The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, with 10 that are good for the brain and 5 that are bad. The 10 brain-healthy food groups include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Other vegetables
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
The five unhealthy groups are:
- Red meats
- Butter and stick margarine
- Pastries and sweets
- Fried or fast food
The MIND diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine. It also involves snacking most days on nuts and eating beans every other day or so, poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. For optimum efficacy, dieters must limit eating the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).
MemoryMeals® senior dining plan based on MIND diet principles.
The basics of the MIND diet had been incorporated into a series of menu choices and recipes used in a growing number of forward-thinking senior living communities across the US. The MemoryMeals® program takes the MIND diet’s emphasis on recipes rich in vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and other brain- and heart-healthy ingredients to create a delicious selection of entrées and desserts. Making this type of diet appealing by way of its variety and endless choices only adds to the likelihood that residents will be able to adhere to the nutrition plan and gain all the benefits of the MIND diet.
Whether for the heart, the mind or the whole body, the right diet can be a building block for senior health and well-being. With expert vetted programs like the MIND diet — and related nutrition plans such as MemoryMeals® — putting the right choices on the plates of older adults is now easier and more effective than ever.