NYS Certified Nutritionist

A Diet that Promotes Brain Health

This is the time of year when some may be thinking about New Year resolutions. Commonly, people focus on losing weight rapidly as their goal. But, what if there were evidence that eating certain foods more often, and reducing the amounts of others, could not only lead to weight loss, but also preserve brain health as we age?

Studying populations that are well fed, yet maintain healthy weights with lower odds of developing dementias, has resulted in the creation of the MIND Diet. This acronym stands for Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This style of eating emphasizes consumption of: vegetables and fruits; fish, and poultry in moderation- or as a condiment to flavor dishes; whole grains, nuts, and legumes [beans- like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, peanuts, etc.]; and low-fat dairy, oils and simple sugars in limited amounts.

Scientists urge us to consider the following pattern: eat a minimum of 6 servings of green leafy vegetables each week; include at least 1 serving of other types of vegetables per day [carrots, broccoli, etc.]; enjoy berries at least twice per week; have dry roasted/unsalted nuts and seeds whole [or in nut or seed butters] 5 times per week; aim to eat whole grains 3 times per day; choose legumes [beans] as a protein source in 3 meals a week; eat fish [not fried] at least once per week; eat skinless poultry at least twice a week; and use olive or canola oils sparingly. With alcohol being an acknowledged neurotoxin, caution is advised if one is trying to protect the health of the brain. In addition, alcohol consumption has been linked to the risk of certain cancers. The MIND diet also cautions against liberal consumption of dairy products [like cheese and butter] and red meats.

We can learn so much from exploring the eating styles of healthier cultures around the world. And, in so doing we can make our New Year resolutions a reality.

Wishing you all a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Dateline: Latham, Albany County, New York