The MIND diet is many things, but a fad diet for fast weight loss it is not.
And that’s a good thing, because there are way too many of those diets—and not one of them is great for your long-term health.
The MIND diet, its proponents say, is all about delaying brain decline and slowing the onset of dementia. True to its name, what you put into your belly affects the performance of your brain.
So how’s that work? In short: By eating more foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and disease-fighting antioxidants and fewer inflammatory foods (butter, cheese, red meat), you’ll increase your brainpower, MIND advocates say.
Those promises are pretty amazing and the MIND diet does have scientific backing. What’s more, MIND might be easier to follow than even the much-heralded Mediterranean diet, which can be a tad restrictive and requires you to eat fish, like, every single day. Plus, the MIND diet even permits you to drink a little wine and you don’t have to count calories.
That said, there are few knocks on MIND diet, particularly in terms of its “bad” brain foods, according to critics.
So is the MIND diet right for you? Can the MIND diet delay brain decline and slow the onset of dementia? Is the research behind it solid?
We had questions too. That’s why we contacted experts to gut-check the diet and find some answers.
Here’s what our nutritional and mental health advisors on our Advisory Board say—and if the MIND diet is actually a smart idea.
What is the MIND diet?
The MIND diet is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. (Yeah, a doozy.)
Basically, you’re taking in bushels of brain-aiding grains, greens, berries, fish, and even a little wine. This isn’t some Internet fad, either—nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., created the MIND diet from her decades of brain research. Morris built the diets pecifically to prevent Alzheimer’s in people 65 and older.
What are the benefits of the MIND diet?
“Food is one of the most important levers that we pull when it comes to brain health,” says Drew Ramsey, M.D., a Men’s Health advisor.
And the benefits of the MIND diet may go beyond the brain.
A 2021 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people on the MIND diet reduced their risk of cardiovascular conditions like hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
What are the drawbacks of the MIND diet?
Most of the research on MIND has only shown a relationship, not a direct cause, says
Brian St. Pierre, R.D., a Men’s Health advisor.
So there’s no proof that the MIND diet alone is the cause of the brain benefits. And that part about eliminating all those inflammatory “bad brain” foods?
“The evidence against eating reasonable amounts of minimally processed red meat and aged cheese is not strong,” St. Pierre says.
Should you try the MIND diet?
Even if you’re younger than 65 and don’t have a family history of neurological diseases, the MIND diet is a good way to eat, says St. Pierre.
Having more fruits and vegetables, plus fish rich in omega-3s, is a recommendation smart dietitians always make, brain health aside. And if you can do that without the headache of counting calories, all the better.
A version of this article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io