The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet How the ‘MIND Diet’ Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE ARTICLES
The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet
How the ‘MIND Diet’ Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
By Diane Wedner, Lifescript Health Writer
Published June 15, 2015
Reviewed by Edward C. Geehr, M.D., Lifescript Chief Medical Officer

What you eat may lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. We tell you which foods are included in the “MIND diet” and give you 7 recipes you’ll love…

Here’s a simple way to lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease: Eat a “brain-healthy” diet of leafy greens and berries, according to a March 2015 study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

The “MIND diet” is a hybrid of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to reduce high blood pressure. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.)

It encourages eating plant-based foods, limits high-fat edibles and focuses on ingredients known to protect the brain, such as blueberries, strawberries and leafy green vegetables.

The plan, developed at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, is based on the results from a study of 923 people between ages 58 and 98, from 2004 to 2013.

Those who stuck to the MIND diet had the best result: They were 53% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, says nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. Participants who ate 1 to 2 servings of green leafy vegetables daily had less cognitive loss, on average, than those who ate fewer greens, Morris notes.
Even participants who stayed with the MIND diet moderately well saw benefits and were 35% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, she says.

“It was about the equivalent of being 11 years younger,” she says.

Though diet can help, there are no sure ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, an incurable brain condition affecting more than 3.2 million women and 1.8 million men in the U.S., mostly over age 65, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It leads to memory and cognitive problems that get progressively worse; it can be fatal.

However, a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise may help protect your brain health over time, according to the National Institute on Aging.

The MIND diet meal plan includes:
Green leafy vegetables: 3 servings daily

Other vegetables: 3 servings every day of 1 salad and 1 other vegetable

Nuts: daily snack

Berries: 1 serving at least twice a week

Beans: 1 serving every other day

Whole grains: 3 daily servings

Fish: at least once a week

Poultry: at least once a week

Olive oil: daily

Wine: limit to 1 glass per day

Foods to avoid:

Red meat

Butter and stick margarine

Cheese

Pastries and sweets

Fried or fast food

Want to add brain-friendly foods to your diet? Start with these 7 easy-to-make recipes:

Wheat Berry Salad with Red Fruit
Serves: 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes

For this sweet and tart salad, wheat berries are blended with cranberries, apples and pecans and tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette – a winning combination. Serve over a bed of peppery arugula for lunch or a light supper.

Ingredients
⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
⅓ cup dried cranberries
3 cups cooked wheat berries (recipe follows)
1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, diced
½ cup pecan halves, toasted (see Tip) and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation
1. Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Combine wheat berries, apple and pecans in a large bowl; stir gently. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture.

3. Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tip:
To toast pecan halves, spread nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
316 calories
14 g fat (2 g saturated)
0 mg cholesterol
42 g carbohydrate
7 g protein
6 g fiber
365 mg sodium
96 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: vitamin C (15% Daily Value)

Strawberry, Melon & Avocado Salad
This composed salad makes a cool kickoff for dinner or as a nutrition-packed lunch on its own. Nutty and slightly sweet sherry vinegar is a natural partner for strawberries.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt
4 cups baby spinach
1 small avocado (4-5 ounces), peeled, pitted and cut into 16 slices
16 thin slices cantaloupe (about ½ small cantaloupe), rind removed
1½ cups hulled strawberries, sliced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Preparation
1. Whisk honey, vinegar, mint, pepper and salt in a small bowl.

2. Divide spinach among 4 salad plates. Arrange alternating slices of avocado and cantaloupe in a fan on top of the spinach. Top each salad with strawberries, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
202 calories
8 g fat (1 g saturated, 5 g monosaturated)
0 mg cholesterol
34 g carbohydrate
3 g protein
7 g fiber
90 mg sodium
Nutrition Bonus: vitamin C, vitamin A, folate

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Here’s a perfect summer supper meal: spice-rubbed grilled chicken breasts, tucked into whole-wheat pitas stuffed with fresh vegetables and tangy yogurt sauce.

Ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1½ teaspoons garam masala, (see Tip), divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber
¾ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, or mint
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas, warmed
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 small or 1 large tomato, sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

Preparation
1. Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. If grilling, oil the grill rack (see Tip). If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.

2. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon garam masala and ½ teaspoon salt. Place the chicken on the grill rack or prepared pan and cook until it’s no longer pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F. This should be 4 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the size of the breast. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine cucumber, yogurt, cilantro (or mint), lemon juice, the remaining ½ teaspoon garam masala and ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Thinly slice the chicken. Split open the warm pitas and fill with the chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Tips:
Garam masala is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking. It’s available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
333 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)
64 mg cholesterol
44 g carbohydrate
32 g protein
6 g fiber
637 mg sodium
485 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: vitamin C (35% Daily Value)

Seared Salmon with White Beans & Fennel
You could call this recipe triple-fennel salmon because it uses the fresh fennel bulb, the fronds and fennel seeds. The end result is melt-in-your-mouth, seared salmon fillets with an earthy bean topping. Add a mixed green salad to complete the meal.

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1 medium tomato, diced

¼ cup dry white wine
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 teaspoon fennel seed
8 ounces center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions

Preparation
1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in beans, tomato and wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato begins to break down, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in chopped fennel fronds, mustard and 18 teaspoon pepper. Cover to keep warm.

2. Rinse and dry the pan. Combine fennel seed and the remaining 18teaspoon pepper in a small bowl; sprinkle evenly on both sides of salmon. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the salmon, skinned side up; cook until golden brown, 3 to 6 minutes. Turn the salmon over, cover and remove from the heat. Allow the salmon to finish cooking off the heat until just cooked through, 3 to 6 minutes more. Serve the salmon with the bean mixture.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
460 calories
21 g fat (4 g saturated, 10 g monosaturated)
67 mg cholesterol
39 g carbohydrate
34 g protein
13 g fiber
610 mg sodium
1589 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: vitamin C (50% Daily Value), potassium (45% DV), calcium, iron and vitamin A (20% DV), folate (18% DV)

Potato-Horseradish-Crusted Mahi-Mahi
This dish is dinner-party delicious, but simple enough for weekday meals. To save time, use precooked shredded potatoes, found in the refrigerated section of the produce department or where eggs are displayed.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup precooked shredded potatoes
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1¼ pounds mahi-mahi, skin removed, cut into 4 portions

4 teaspoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lemon, quartered

Preparation
1. Combine potatoes, shallot, horseradish, mustard, garlic salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread each portion of fish with 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, then top with ¼ of the potato mixture, pressing the mixture onto the fish.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the fish in the pan potato-side down and cook until crispy and browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Gently turn the fish over, reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
205 calories
6 g fat (1 g saturated, 3 g monosaturated)
105 mg cholesterol
9 g carbohydrate
27 g protein
1 g fiber
311 mg sodium
623 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: selenium (74% Daily Value)

Baja-Battered Fish
Fish tacos are fabulous. This recipe is a healthy version of the battered, deep-fried and crispy fish at Rossy’s Tacos in Baja California. The fish is best when served immediately, but it’ll keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
¾ cup beer, preferably lager or pilsner
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1¼ pounds tilapia or other firm white fish, sliced into ½-inch-by-2-inch strips 

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Preparation
1. Place beer, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, oregano, mustard, cayenne and pepper in a blender; blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Transfer the batter to a shallow baking dish. Add fish, turning to coat all sides.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer one-third of the battered fish to the pan, placing each piece into a little oil. Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer cooked fish to a plate; keep warm. Add 1 tablespoon oil and half the remaining fish to the pan; cook as directed above, reducing the heat if necessary. Cook the remaining fish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
120 calories
6 g fat (0 g saturated, 3 g monosaturated)
33 mg cholesterol
4 g carbohydrate
11 g protein
0 g fiber
112 mg sodium
180 mg potassium

Berry-Banana Smoothie
There’s no more classic – or antioxidant-rich – combo than fresh berries and bananas. Here, just a touch of honey shines up their flavors even more.

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
1 ripe banana, sliced
½ cup raspberries
¼ cup blueberries
1½ teaspoons honey
18 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened apple juice
½ cup ice

Preparation
1. Place ingredients in the order listed in a blender. Pulse twice to chop the fruit, stir well, then blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Per serving:
126 calories
0 g fat
0 mg cholesterol
33 g carbohydrate
1 g protein
5 g fiber
4 mg sodium
338 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: vitamin C (25% Daily Value)

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