This month's blog is written by Sarah Czarnecki, Graduate Student, UK Health & Wellness

The internet is jam-packed with information on fad diets and diet programs (South Beach, Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo, Raw Food, Nutrisystem, etc.) but it’s often difficult to find long lasting success with diets such as these. Some dieters may become stuck in a rut, limiting themselves to only the foods that are “allowed.” If you are reading this, you may be thinking, “but I don’t want to diet, I just want to eat healthfully.” The MIND Diet is just that… healthful eating, but with an emphasis on “brain” foods, or foods that are scientifically shown to improve the health of our brains. With that, the MIND diet has even been proven to reduce risk in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).


The MIND diet is not restrictive. There is no calorie limit or strict meal timing; it is simply about increasing your intake of health-promoting foods. Specifically, the MIND diet recommends daily consumption of at least three servings of whole grains, a salad, and one additional vegetable (along with a 5-ounce glass of red wine!) The MIND diet also advises one ounce of nuts per day, beans or legumes at least every other day, poultry and berries at least twice per week, and fish at least once per week. 

10 Groups of Food to Include in the MIND Diet:


  • Green leafy vegetables             

  • Other vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Fish

  • Nuts                                                

  • Poultry

  • Berries                                            

  • Olive Oil (use as main cooking oil)

  • Beans                                              

  • Wine (red)

5 Groups of Food to Minimize in the MIND Diet:


  • Red meats                                       

  • Pastries & sweets

  • Butter and stick margarine       

  • Fried or fast food

  • Cheese

The MIND diet recommends limiting red meat to less than four servings per week, butter and stick margarine to less than a tablespoon daily, cheese to less than one serving per week, pastries and sweets to less than 5 servings per week, and fried or fast food to less than one serving per week.

           

It is important to mention that research supports the idea that blueberries are one of the most potent foods in terms of protecting the brain. Therefore, if you are following the MIND Diet and are choosing a certain type of berry for consumption, blueberries are strongly encouraged.

 

Alzheimer’s is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be many factors that play into development, such as behavior, environment, and genetics. However, evidence has shown that genetic risk factors are a small influence with the development of AD, and what we eat may play the most significant role in determining who becomes diagnosed with the disease. According to a study recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, individuals who stuck to the MIND diet rigorously and followed all requirements lowered their risk of developing AD by 54%. In this same study, it was also found that adults who followed the diet only part of the time still lowered their risk by a significant amount, about 35%. Alternatively, those individuals who followed other diets such as the DASH and the Mediterranean, had almost a zero percent drop in their risk of developing AD. The results of this study are alarming and show just how large of an effect diet may have on preventing AD.

           

Even though the MIND diet has been shown to play a large role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, don’t forget about regular exercise and stress management as additional ways to lower risk even further.  

If you would like to incorporate the MIND diet principles into your own diet, here are some recipe ideas to get you started! 

Blueberry Banana Smoothie


  • ½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

  • ½ banana

  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds

  • 6 ounces water (more if smoothie is too thick)

  • 1 teaspoon honey


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until it reaches desired consistency. (Makes 2 glasses.)
From www.thisgirlsrecipes.com

Pan Seared Orange Mustard Salmon


  • 1 teaspoon butter

  • 3 salmon filets

  • ½ cup orange juice

  • Zest of 1 orange

  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard

  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

  • Salt to taste

  • Sesame seeds for topping


1. Heat butter in a cast iron skillet and add the salmon filets skin side down. Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes till the skin is slightly crispy.

2. Whisk together orange juice, zest, mustard, soy sauce, honey, vinegar and salt in a small bowl and add it to the pan. Bring this to a quick boil and simmer the sauce for 2-3 minutes till it thickens up. Gently flip the salmon and coat it with sauce. Top with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

(Makes 2 servings)
From www.myfoodstory.com

Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Bites


  • 2 ½ cups pomegranate seeds

  • 5 ½ ounces (150 g) good dark chocolate, melted

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt


1. Across 12 muffin cups, sprinkle a single layer of pomegranate seeds.

2. Add the melted dark chocolate to a piping bag or plastic bag. Snip off the end, so a small stream of chocolate can come out.

3. Pipe a crisscross pattern of chocolate across the pomegranate seeds. Add another layer of pomegranate seeds, then more chocolate, and then the last layer of pomegranate seeds.

4. Finish with a pinch of sea salt on each of the chocolate bites.

5. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. After removing from the fridge, serve immediately.

(Makes 12 pieces)
From www.shinyhappybright.com

Resources for additional MIND Diet Information and Recipes