Ready to eat for brain health? Despite its complicated name, the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (aka the MIND diet) is surprisingly easy to follow. There are no overly specific rules on how much, when, and what to eat. Instead the MIND diet simply encourages us to eat more of the foods that have been shown to reduce oxidative stress to brain cells and slow cognitive decline—olive oil, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, leafy greens, whole grains, and berries—and less of the ones that don't (red meat, full-fat cheese butter, fried foods, and sweets and pastries).
Even then, you don't have to give up your favorite foods completely. While close adherence to the diet can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's by 53 percent, moderate adherence—still enjoying a cheeseburger or a piece of pie every now and then—can lower your risk by 35 percent. When in doubt, a salad of mixed greens and berries is a great go-to MIND diet dish, but these simple and delicious meal ideas make it easy to see how you can enjoy a variety of brain-healthy foods all day long:
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Oatmeal topped with blueberries, walnuts, and flax seeds
A smoothie made with banana, kale, blueberries, low-fat yogurt, protein powder, and cinnamon
Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and strawberry slices
An omelet or frittata made with tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli florets, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese (and cooked with olive oil instead of butter)
Feel free to add a cup of coffee to whichever breakfast you choose!
Salad with leafy greens (kale, romaine, arugula, spinach) made with an olive oil-and-vinegar–based dressing and topped with tomatoes, sunflower seeds, hard-boiled eggs, and/or avocado
Avocado toast on whole-wheat bread topped with smoked salmon or a poached egg
Lentil soup with kale and carrots
Veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun with tomato and lettuce
Sparkling water or seltzer is a great lunchtime drink!
Carrots and hummus
A handful of almonds and blueberries
Black bean and corn salad
Roasted chicken breast over quinoa and spinach sauteed with olive oil and garlic
Stir-fried veggies (string beans, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions) with brown rice
Tuna or salmon sushi with a seaweed salad and edamame
Whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce and a side salad
Feel free to add one glass of red wine! (But don't start drinking if you don't.)
Want more inspiration? We love the recipes at the Brain Health Kitchen blog, where Dr. Annie Fenn, a physician and chef, whips up dishes that are as tasty as they are good for you!