Brain Healthy One-Day Meal Plan: MIND Diet
How can you protect your brain for years to come? By eating the Mediterreanean/MIND diets. According to epidemiological research and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals who adhere to the Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets are able to preserve their cognitive function and lower their risk of age-related brain diseases. In fact, people who follow these diets tend to live longer with significantly lower rates of dementia and cognitive decline (up to 50% lower).1
How can we apply these diets to promote lifelong brain health?
Overhauling your entire diet overnight may not be a realistic goal for many individuals. However, incorporating small changes into your eating habits can be a simple and sustainable way to improve your diet over time.
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.
- Cook your own meals when possible. By cooking your own meals, you can control the ingredients and ensure that you're hitting all the goals for the MIND diet servings.
- Swap out sweet and heavily sugared sweets for homemade treats with dried fruits and nuts for added benefits of brain-boosting nutrients.
- 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 more fermented foods. Fermented foods like pickles and kimchi contain probiotics that can improve gut health, which in turn can benefit brain function.
Are you ready to boost your brain health and fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods? Below is a sample one-day menu to help you get started. We created this plan to share an example of eating with the MIND diet for a day. Simply replace some snacks or meals with a choice from below for a healthy dose of brain healthy nutrients.
Sample One-Day Meal Plan for Brain Healthy Eating:
Breakfast: One Skillet Huevos Rancheros
Tomatoes provide lycopene, a member of the carotenoid family with anti-inflammatory properties, while the chiles are rich in brain-boosting vitamin B.
Snack: Roasted Pecans With Zaatar Seasoning
Simply toss a cup of pecans in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of Zaatar seasoning in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Zaatar is a delicious and savory spice blend popularly used in the middle east and is full of flavonoids and omega-3s for a brain boost.
Lunch: Strawberry Arugula Salad w/ Chicken and Creamy Strawberry Salad Dressing
Arugula is a cruciferous veggie filled with flavonoids and nuts add omega-3s and vitamin E.
Snack: Dark chocolate and berry bark with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries.
Packed with brain-healthy nutrients like anthocyanins from dried cranberries, and flavonoids from dark chocolate, this delicious treat is the perfect way to support your cognitive function and satisfy your sweet tooth.
Dinner: Turkey Bolognese Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn squash is rich in carotenoids, plant pigments with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that promote brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Remember that any effort you make towards following a brain-healthy diet can bring about positive results, and the more steps you take, the closer you'll be to achieving optimal brain health, in addition to other healthy lifestyle habits. Start by making small changes, and gradually add more when you're ready. Every step counts towards better brain health.
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.
1. 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).