The MIND Diet

By Charlyn Fargo

July 24, 2020 6 min read

There's a new diet plan that may help you remember things. It's appropriately nicknamed the MIND diet. It stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

A study at Rush University found people who followed the diet closely had a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Those who followed it moderately had a 35% lower risk. Those who followed the DASH diet lowered risk by 39%. The findings were published in the March 2017 Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

So, how does the MIND diet work? The diet puts together the best from the Mediterranean diet — more fish, healthy fats, vegetables and whole grains — and the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

The DASH diet has been found to reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. The Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Together, they help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's.

Researchers found the MIND diet is easier to follow than the Mediterranean, which requires daily fish consumption and multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.

A typical day's intake on the MIND diet might include three servings of whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, wheat bread), a salad and another vegetable, a glass of wine, nuts for a snack, and blueberries or strawberries. Chicken or fish and beans are to be consumed every other day. Foods like butter, cheese, red meat, pastries, sweets and fried or processed foods are avoided.

Overall, the MIND diet emphasizes natural, plant-based foods and limits intake of animal foods and saturated fats. However, it specifies adding berries and green, leafy vegetables.

Rush researchers looked at food intake data from 900 older Americans already participating in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which began in 1997. Over a five-year period, the team collected data on incidences of Alzheimer's.

Even when the MIND diet was only moderately followed, it still reduced the risk of Alzheimer's by 35%. Moderate adherence to the Mediterranean and DASH diets had only negligible protective benefits, according to study authors.

We know lots of factors, including genetics, environment and lifestyle, may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's. The MIND diet may help reduce risks.

Q and A

Q: What role does zinc play in the body?

A: Zinc is an essential nutrient, which means you can't make it; you have to include it in your diet. Zinc is present in every single cell and necessary for the activity of more than 300 enzymes that are used in metabolism, digestion, nerve functioning and immune system support. It's also important for skin health, protein production and the synthesis of DNA. So, how do you get enough? Choose meats, poultry, oysters, beans, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.


In central Illinois, it's the season for fresh blueberries and peaches — two of my favorite fruits. This recipe combines them both. The recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, made healthier because it's lower in sugar. That's not to say this is something you'd want to eat daily, but there are times in our life when a bit of sweet is a good thing. I'm a believer that everything fits into a meal plan — in the right portion. So, enjoy a bit of summer with this Peach-Blueberry Crisp.


2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 6 cups)

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup old-fashioned regular rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Gently stir together peaches, blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into an 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until mixture is completely smooth (no clumps). Add butter, and toss to coat. With a fork or hands, mix butter into flour until pebble consistency. Stir in oats. Crumble topping evenly over peach mixture. Bake in preheated oven until top is golden and fruit is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8 (serving size: 2/3 cup).

Per serving: 299 calories; 4 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fat; 5 grams fiber; 124 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Comfreak at Pixabay

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