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🧠 How To Slim Down & Improve Your Brain Health with the MIND Diet (+Recipes & Plan)

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It’s a brand-new year, so you’re likely resolved to slim down, feel better and look your best.

But before you decide on an eating plan, why not choose one that goes beyond simply reducing inches and pounds and delivers health benefits to your precious brain as well.

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It combines two effective weight-loss diet strategies – the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

Researchers at Rush Medical Center in Chicago developed MIND to emphasize foods that impact brain health, and by extension, help prevent dementia and age-related cognitive decline.  The result of recent research shows that even moderately following the MIND diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50% and reduce a brain’s age by 7.5 years. (1, 2)

How MIND Works

Instead of a specific eating plan, MIND’s primary directive is to eat more servings of ten proven brain-defending foods. Eating strictly from the list below should fill you up enough that you haven’t a whole lot of room left for less healthy foods.

1. Six or more servings of green leafy vegetables every week

Green leaves are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide a myriad of health benefits for your brain. Green leafy vegetables include kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, Bok choy, broccoli rabe, collard greens, scallions, and arugula.

2. One serving of another non-starchy vegetable daily

There is a long list of vegetables you can choose from – some favorites include asparagus, artichoke, avocado, green beans, beets, Brussels sports, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumber, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes.

Starchy vegetables to avoid are potatoes, corn, butternut squash, chickpeas, parsnips, and sweet potatoes.

Tip: In general, a serving of vegetables is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.

3. Five servings of nuts every week

All nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, essential for brain health. But when it comes to nuts to boost brain power, there are a few standouts, including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts. (3)

Tip: A serving of nuts is two ounces or approximately 1/3 cup.

4. Two servings of berries every week

A recent clinical study found that eating blueberries can reduce the risk of age-related cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (4)

Berries, in general, such as blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants which are especially great at safeguarding your brain from degeneration.

Tip: A serving of berries is one cup or 5 ounces.

5.  Four servings of beans every week

Legumes such as black beans and lentils are chock-full of fiber, stabilizing blood sugar levels. Legumes also contain vitamin B, magnesium, and folate, which are especially valuable to your brain because they help create new neurotransmitters that pass signals between your brain cells.

6. Three servings per day of whole grains

Aim for high-quality, gluten-free whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice. Both are good sources of soluble fiber that promote gut and brain health. Certain types of whole grain bread are also good options such as sprouted whole grain, 100% whole wheat, oat bread, and flax bread.

Tip: A serving of beans and whole grains is 1 cup cooked.

7. At least one serving of fatty fish (more is better) every week

Your brain is nearly 60% fat, and we’ve learned that omega-3 fatty acids are among the most essential nutrients that determine your brain’s ability to perform at its best. (5) Omega-3 fatty acids are also full of anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce chronic inflammation that contributes to brain fog and impaired memory.

Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, and trout.

8. Two servings of chicken or turkey every week

Protein is another essential ingredient in the creation of neurotransmitters, the mechanism by which your brain cells communicate.

Tip: A serving of poultry or fish is between 3 and 4 ounces.

9. Olive Oil for prep and cooking oil

When cooking, replace unhealthy butter, vegetable, and palm oils with olive oil. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory properties that help mitigate oxidative stress that harms brain neurons.

All methods of preparation are acceptable except for frying. Keep your fried food intake to once a week or less.

For Optimal Brain Health, Limit These Foods:

Butter and margarine – no more than 1 tablespoon a day

Cheese – one serving per week

Wine – no more than 4 ounces a day

Red meat – no more than three weekly servings

Pastries and sweets – saying no to all is best but limiting them to less than four servings a week is ideal

MIND Diet Meal Plan

Below is a typical day of eating on the MIND diet.

Breakfast

1 cup of steel-cut oatmeal topped with 1/2 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup blackberries.

1 slice whole-grain toast with two tablespoons of organic peanut or almond butter

Snack

1/3 cup walnuts, unsalted.

Lunch

Sandwich: 2 slices whole-wheat bread with 4 ounces of cooked chicken breast and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

Salad Recipe:

1 cup fresh spinach

1/3 cup toasted pecans

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 thinly sliced apple

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon low-calorie Italian dressing

Dinner

Salad Recipe:

1/2 cup arugula

1/2 cup romaine lettuce.

1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing made with olive oil.

4-ounce salmon topped with 1 teaspoon tarragon and 1 teaspoon mustard.       

½ cup green beans and 4 asparagus spears.

1 cup white beans.

Snack

1/2 cup peanuts, unsalted.

Supplement Your Brain Health

Supplements formulated with brain health nutrients are another essential way to ensure that your brain gets everything it needs to age wisely.

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Brain contains 40 researched and proven ingredients, including Huperzine A, Bacopa, DHA, Choline, along with essential vitamins and minerals to support brain health.

Take Dynamic Brain daily to promote optimal cognitive function leading to better memory, sharper processing, focus, alertness, learning, and mood, plus a boost of mental energy.

 

SOURCES:
1. alzheimers.net/4-8-15-mind-diet-alzheimers-prevention
2. braintest.com/lean-protein-really-protect-brain/
3. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12603-014-0569-2
4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192974/#!po=1.56250
5. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20329590/
6. brainhealthkitchen.com/food-and-brain-health-dr-martha-clare-morris-mind-diet-study/
7. The MIND Diet for Alzheimer’s and Brain Health | U.S. News Best Diets – health.usnews.com/best-diet/mind-diet

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