So Many Diets, So Little Time!

It seems like a new diet fad comes on the horizon almost daily. How do we determine what will work best for us, to meet our health goals and in a variety of situations?

It seems like a new diet fad comes on the horizon almost daily. How do we determine what will work best for us, to meet our health goals and in a variety of situations?

In a review of multiple diet plans (including Atkins, South Beach, Keto, Paleo, etc.), two particular diet plans lead the pack when it comes to good nutrition and weight control. The DASH and Mediterranean diet plans have stood the test of time, and research continues to support their health benefits.

The DASH diet has been used for years to help treat hypertension and associated cardiovascular diseases. The DASH diet goes far beyond just limiting sodium in the diet, but many patients credit its success with realistic guidelines. While the Mediterranean diet (think Greece) has also been correlated with improved nutrition status and heart health, the dietary suggestions are much more specific than the DASH diet, and particular aspects prove to be difficult to achieve in one day.

So let’s take this a step further. What happens if we combine these two diet plans? The result has come to be known as the MIND diet. The MIND diet aims to improve nutrition status, improve general as well as heart health, AND prevent (or decrease the risk of) the development of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Below, we have provided some general recommendations for these two diets, followed by a MIND Diet How-to-do Checklist.  The MIND Diet takes some of the best parts of both the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet, and is more practical for day-to-day eating. Note that recommendations are made on both a daily and weekly basis.

MIND stands for the “Mediterranean – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay”.  This particular style of eating is a more practical approach to the Mediterranean Diet and stresses the importance of consuming natural, wholesome foods.  It also considers the DASH diet which reduces sodium and fat consumption to foster good heart health.  A physiologically “younger” brain and a marked drop in risk for Alzheimer’s disease are associated with the MIND method.

Foods to Consume Weekly:

  • Green leafy and whole veggies
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Poultry and fish
  • Olive and plant oils
  • Wine

Foods to Limit Weekly:

  • Fried, processed, or fast foods
  • Red meats
  • Cheeses
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Pastries and sweets

MIND Diet How-to-do Checklist

  • Consume at least3 servings of whole grains per day but pay attention to serving sizes.
  • Eat one salad per day which can be cooked at ½ cup or raw at 1 cup and one more vegetable.
    • Kraut, green olives, and kimchi contain probiotics.
    • Raw dry garlic, raw asparagus, and dandelion greens contain prebiotics.
  • Eat 2 cups of whole, raw berries at least twice a week.
  • Snack on a small handful of nuts most days of the week, about five days a week is appropriate.
  • Eat a ½ cup serving of cooked beans every other day or about four days per week.
  • Consume 3-4 oz. of poultry at least twice a week and 3-4 oz. of fish at least once a week.
  • Consume less than one serving of unhealthier foods (processed, fried, and fast) per week.
  • Natural butter is allowed but no more than a tablespoon per day.
  • Red wine can act as an anti-inflammatory but try not to exceed 1 – 5 oz. glass per day.

What about dairy?

  • If you consume dairy, choose yogurt, kefir, acidophilus milk, and buttermilk for their probiotics.

All of these recommendations are subject to change in relation to an individual’s needs.  If the MIND diet sounds like something of interest to you but you’re unsure as to how much you may need in a given day or week, consult a registered dietitian for more information. 

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