MIND Diet Pros and Cons

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75 million people are expected to be living with dementia by 2030 (1). Since there is no cure for this progressive disease, preventative measures are frequently explored. 

The MIND diet has been shown to possibly help with cognitive health among other benefits. Let’s explore the pros and cons of the MIND diet.

What is the MIND Diet?

The MIND Diet is the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

It has been linked to improved cognition, less cognitive decline, and lower risk of dementia (2). There is also evidence of psychological benefits. 

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional Greek eating pattern, highlighting many plant based foods and olive oil. 

The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while minimizing saturated fats to help lower blood pressure. 

The MIND diet combines dietary patterns from both the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet to promote cognitive health. 

10 Brain Healthy Foods

The MIND Diet emphasizes these 10 brain health foods (3)

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables
  2. Other vegetables
  3. Berries
  4. Nuts
  5. Beans
  6. Whole grains
  7. Seafood
  8. Poultry 
  9. Olive oil
  10. Wine

Plant based foods are encouraged. Many of these foods have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which can have a positive impact on cognitive function.

Graphic of mind diet foods including vegetables, berries, seafood, poultry, nuts, beans, wheat, olive oil, wine.
MIND Diet Foods

5 Food Groups to Avoid

Foods to minimize on the MIND Diet include: 

  1. Red meat
  2. Butter & margarine
  3. Cheese
  4. Pastries & sweets
  5. Fried foods

Pros

Research indicates that there are many benefits to the MIND diet, even beyond cognitive health:

  • Cardiovascular benefits (4)
  • Potential to decrease blood pressure (5)
  • Associated with better cognitive functioning (6) 
  • Possible cognitive resilience (7)
  • Decreased odds of anxiety and depression (8)
  • Associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (9)
  • Protective effects against age related muscle strength decline (10), (11)
  • Associated with better sleep quality (12)
  • Not overly restrictive 

Cons

While there may be many benefits to the MIND diet, it is not without its barriers: 

  • Research indicates that while the MIND Diet may improve cognition in the shorter term, there is not association over many years (13)
  • Foods emphasized in the MIND diet may be more expensive (14)
  • Difficult to follow if unable to shop or cook 
  • Access to certain foods may be limited in some areas
  • Those with chewing and swallowing issues may have difficulties eating some of the encouraged foods. 
  • Many older adults are at risk for weight loss and would be unable to consume higher calorie foods on the avoid list, increasing the risk 

Practical Takeaways

The MIND diet has many potential advantages, especially regarding cognition. Its long term benefits are unclear. 

If older adults enjoy the 10 brain foods, then it may be worth trying. 

List of mind diet pros and cons covered in the body of the article.
MIND Diet Pros and Cons

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