MIND What you Eat: Can your Diet Protect your Brain?

April 12, 2018
| Created by Melanie Taylor, MS, RDN, CD

Have you heard of the MIND diet? MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It combines two of the most reasonable and studied diets (Mediterranean and DASH) to create the best dietary approach to reduce dementia and decline in brain health that occurs with aging.

The simplicity of the MIND diet is refreshing, too! Focus on including 10 foods with known brain health benefits and reduce, or limit, intake of five foods highest in saturated and trans fats. Here are the foods to focus on:

Leafy Greens

Eat at least 6 servings per week, including kale, spinach, and collard greens.

Other Vegetables

Eat a variety of other vegetables in addition to leafy greens. Aim for at least one serving per day.


Eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries at least twice per week. Fresh or frozen both count—just avoid added sugar.


Try to get at least five servings of nuts per week. Remember that one ounce, or about a handful, is a serving. 

Olive Oil

Choose olive oil as your main cooking oil. 

Whole Grains

Aim for at least three servings of whole grains each day. Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and 100 percent whole-grain bread are all good choices.


Include beans, legumes and lentils at least three times per week.


Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel have high amounts of omega-3-fatty acids. Eat fish at least once per week.


Eat lean chicken or turkey at least twice per week. Fried poultry (chicken nuggets or tenders) doesn’t count!


Both red and white varieties may benefit the brain, but one glass per day is enough for brain health.

No food is a bad food, but research suggests that consuming too much saturated and trans fat is associated with poor brain health (not to mention heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers). Limiting foods highest in these types of fats—including butter/margarine, cheese, red meat, fried foods, and pastries—can reduce risk for diseases and premature mental aging.