You already know that eating healthy is a good idea. Avoiding fried and processed foods and filling up instead on fruits, veggies, and whole grains benefits every part of your body. But there's actually a specific eating plan designed to protect our brains from dementia: the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).

The benefits are profound, but the diet is simple. There’s a set of healthy foods and unhealthy foods. That’s it. No calorie counting, complicated instructions, or restrictive guidelines.

A combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, the MIND diet is wonderfully full of berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, beans, fresh salads and veggies, fish, poultry, and even wine. Collectively, these foods are packed with folate, omega-3 fats, vitamin E, flavonoids, and carotenoids—nutrients that have been shown to reduce oxidative damage to brain cells and boost brain health in general.

More reasons why it's smart to give the MIND diet a try: 

  • In one study, participants who followed the MIND diet closely were 53 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who didn't. 

  • You can reap the brain benefits even if you don't follow the diet to the letter. People in the same study with moderate adherence still saw a 35 percent reduction in their risk.

  • Through brain autopsies, researchers noticed those who followed the MIND diet closely might have had plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease without ever showing symptoms. This way of eating may surpress cognitive decline or increase brain resilience. 

  • The MIND diet also helps to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity in middle age, which in turn protects your brain.

Your homework? Stock up on these MIND diet must-haves:

  • Berries (frozen ones are fine)

  • Nuts

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pastas, oats) 

  • Beans (canned ones are convenient)

  • Leafy greens 

  • Other vegetables

  • Fish

  • Poultry

  • Red wine (this is optional, if you regularly consume alcohol, a small glass of red should be your drink of choice; if not, don’t start drinking now)

You’ll be enjoying all of these healthy foods on a regular basis soon (and reaping the cognitive benefits)!