The MIND Diet: Your Ultimate Guide


We’ve all heard of the Mediterranean Diet. Maybe you’ve heard of the DASH Diet as well. Both are longstanding, widely regarded healthy eating styles linked to lower risks for a multitude of diseases. What if I told you there was another eating style that combines the powers of both and gives your brainpower a boost? Enter here – the MIND Diet.

What is the MIND Diet?

The MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) couples the principles of the Mediterranean and DASH diets with an end goal of reducing dementia and overall decline in cognitive health that is common amongst our older population. Recent studies suggest that the MIND Diet is, in fact, very effective at slowing cognitive decline and may be superior to other plant-rich diets in this regard (1). 

Check our more about the Mediterranean Diet here!

What are the guidelines for the MIND Diet?

This dietary style focuses on specific foods to include and recommends limiting certain others with a focus on eating whole foods and lots of plants. The foods to feature every day are:

  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • All other vegetables
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Poultry
  • Wine (up to one glass per day)

By focusing on these foods, you will be eating a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

This also recommends limiting the following foods or eating them infrequently:

  • Butter/margarine
  • Cheese
  • Red meat
  • Fried foods
  • Foods with added sugar


How does this differ from DASH and the Mediterranean Diet?

The MIND Diet is extraordinarily focused on providing nutrients and foods that optimize cognitive health, which is reflected in the foods to feature every day. For example, berries are included specifically rather than grouped in with all fruit because berries tend to be higher in antioxidants. Similarly, the MIND Diet breaks green, leafy vegetables out into their own category. The diet’s developers feel strongly that green, leafy vegetables should be included every day in addition to other vegetables.


How can this affect my health?

Recent studies suggest the MIND Diet can reduce risks for all-cause mortality over at least 12 years, with stricter adherence linked to the most protective effects (2). The MIND Diet has also been shown to reduce cognitive decline often associated with aging, to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and to delay the incidence and progression of Parkinson’s Disease (3, 4). The MIND Diet seems to maintain and improve cognitive health to a greater degree than other plant-forward diets, including the Mediterranean Diet, DASH, Baltic Sea Diet, and Pro-Vegetarian diets (5). It is also linked to all of the wonderful positive cardiovascular outcomes associated with both DASH and the Mediterranean Diet. 


The Bottom Line

There is no one single healthy eating plan that works for everyone. However, research consistently points to the best outcomes when we eat focus on certain foods. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins are often correlated with better health outcomes. Like the Mediterranean and DASH eating patterns, the MIND Diet emphasizes these foods and specifically those with higher antioxidant content, which may protect your brain and your heart. The healthy fats from nuts, fish, and olive oil may also lower inflammation and will help keep you full. Overall, if you have a family history of cognitive illness or simply want to offer your brain the most protection you can, the MIND Diet might be right for you. 


For more science-backed nutrition education, follow us along on Instagram @culinahealth! 

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