Brain Healthy One-Day Meal Plan: MIND Diet
What do the oldest people with the healthiest brains eat? The Mediterreanean/MIND diets. People who follow the Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets maintain their cognitive ability and reduce their risk of age-related brain disease. These are people who live the longest with significantly lower rates of dementia and cognitive decline (as much as 50% lower), according to epidemiological research and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.1
But how can we put these diets into practice for lifelong brain health?
For many of us, a complete diet overhaul is generally not realistic overnight. However, small changes can be easy to make and are more sustainable.
Practical Ways to Start Eating Brain Foods
Here are a few practical ways to start implementing the MIND diet today:
- Start by putting vegetables on your plate first, specifically dark leafy greens as they are nutrient-dense and strongly benefit your brain.
- Prepare your food ahead of time to avoid eating processed/junk food. Even having a few simple ingredients precut or precooked will save you time and help in avoiding eating out.
Swap out red meat for brain protective chicken and fish. Fish is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and chicken is a lean source of certain nutrients most abundant in animal products, such as B vitamins.
- Try to “eat the rainbow” each day. The colorful compounds and pigments in fruits and vegetables contribute to their anti-inflammatory nature.
- Make your own condiments – these are a major hidden source of added sugars and trans-fats. The easiest is salad dressing: Use 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice. Play with adding salt, pepper, herbs, and spices to taste.
- Incorporate healthy fats from foods like nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Have nut butter with your favorite fruit as a snack. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in healthy fats – use olive when cooking instead of butter.
Are you excited and ready to go? Below is a sample one-day menu. We created this table to share an example of eating with the MIND diet for a day. Simply replace some snacks or meals with a choice from above for a healthy dose of brain healthy nutrients.
Sample One-Day Meal Plan for Brain Healthy Eating:
Breakfast: A bowl of creamy millet with almond milk and a sprinkle of dark chocolate olive oil granola and a handful of blueberries.
Snack: Airfried (or roasted) crispy and seasoned chickpeas and a 1/4 cup of olives marinated in olive oil.
Lunch: Grain bowl with shredded chicken, cauliflower, carrots, and bell peppers with a tahini homemade dressing.
Snack: Green smoothie with spinach, strawberries, banana, cashew milk, and chia seeds.
Dinner: Salmon over a bed of mixed greens and quinoa, drizzled with a kale basil pesto.
Consider that any step toward these diets can provide some benefit, and the more steps you take the closer you’ll get to achieving optimal brain health, in addition to other lifestyle factors. So, start with small changes and add more when you’re ready.
As you make progress with diet, RELEVATE can help fill in the gaps where your diet falls short. RELEVATE is designed upon the framework of the Medi and MIND diets, and includes 17 nutrients for long-term brain health. Learn more about RELEVATE here.
- Van den Brink, A. C., Brouwer-Brolsma, E. M., Berendsen, A. A. M. & van de Rest, O. The Mediterranean, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diets Are Associated with Less Cognitive Decline and a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease—A Review. Adv. Nutr. 10, 1040–1065 (2019).