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The MIND diet – what is it and how does it promote my brain health?

The MIND diet – what is it and how does it promote my brain health?


The MIND diet stands for The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Diet. I know that probably sounds like a whole lot of gibberish but we are here to break it down for you! The ‘Mediterranean-DASH’ simply highlights two other heavily researched diets that may be protective of blood pressure, heart diseases and cancer. Whereas adherence to the MIND diet may be beneficial for protecting human brain health specifically and may lower the risk or delay cognitive decline associated with dementia, stroke and Huntington’s disease. The MIND diet follows a list of foods to either avoid or enjoy and below are two lists of those foods;

Research has shown that the following foods should be enjoyed as they are either high in antioxidants, low in saturated and trans fats, contain fibre, or specific vitamins that can be protective of brain health.

  • Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, rocket or kale.
  • A variety of different vegetables with the colour of the rainbow eg: carrots, cauliflower, green beans and capsicum.
  • Berries such as strawberries, raspberries or black-berries.
  • Olive oil, preferably extra virgin varieties.
  • Wholegrains such as brown rice, oats, wholemeal flours, barley and bulgur.
  • Fish that is not deep-fried: eg: salmon, tuna or cod.
  • Legumes such as lentils and beans.
  • Lean poultry such as chicken or turkey with the skin cut off.
  • Wine (up to one glass per day!).

The following foods should be limited as much as possible due to the saturated and trans fat content that can be damaging to your brain health. High saturated and trans fat diets can be linked to inflammation in the brain which can cause a higher risk of stroke and accelerate the declining of brain health.

  • Butters and margarines.
  • Cheeses such as tasty, camembert and cream cheese.
  • Sweets such as cakes, biscuits and ice-cream.
  • Fried food such as hot-chips, fried-chicken and fried dim-sims.
  • Red and processed meats such as beef, lamb, ham, salamis, sausages and hotdogs.

Meal Ideas: but how do I put this into my everyday routine?!

Aim to make things easier for your future self – put aside a few hours on the weekend of a particular night each week to prep veggies (whether that be cutting them up to eat raw as snacks, or roasting and sautéing to quickly add as a side to a protein and wholegrain meal) or roasting up some chicken, preparing rissoles to freeze or ensuring you have enough canned legumes, canned tuna and frozen veggies to utilise for the week.

Breakfast:

  • Veggie protein muffins.
  • An omelette with lots of veggies.
  • Oats and berries.
  • Wholemeal toast with tuna or home-made berry chia jam.

Lunch:

  • Tuna, salmon or grilled fish with wholegrain rice and some frozen vegetables.
  • Roast chicken or tuna sandwich or Ryvita™ with salad vegetables.
  • Brown rice poke bowl (chickpea, beans, fish or turkey meatballs) with edamame and other vegetables of your choice.

Dinner:

  • Wholemeal tuna pasta with a side salad.
  • Vegetarian chilli con carne with legumes or beans.
  • Chicken mince rissoles, grilled fish or roast chicken with vegetables a side salad and your choice of a wholegrains as a side.

Snacks:

  • Your choice of vegetables dipped into hummus or cannellini bean dip, or enjoyed with wholemeal Ryvita™
  • A snack of mixed berries, or mixed berries and oats, or even mixed berry muffins made with wholemeal flour and a mashed, ripe banana as the sweetener.
    Written by Rosie Candusso
    Student Dietitian
     

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