The research is clear: What you eat has a big impact on your brain. In fact, the right foods — and combinations of foods — canenhance memory, build new brain cells and even help ward off Alzheimer’s.
Scientists are increasingly examining whole food groups — and diets — to determine which ones contribute to better cognition and which seem to hinder it. They’ve found that certain eating plans — including the Mediterranean diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and a hybrid of the two, dubbed the MIND diet — can help stave off cognitive decline and protect the brain against disease. The MIND diet, developed by researchers at Rush University in Chicago, slashed the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.) Even those who followed the diet moderately had a 35 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
Why the MIND advantage? Like the Mediterranean and DASH diets, the MIND diet emphasizes fish, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans and a daily glass of wine. But MIND goes one step further, specifying brain-boosting produce such as berries and leafy greens. According to study author Martha Clare Morris, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Rush, people who ate one to two servings of green leafy vegetables a day were cognitively 11 years younger than those who ate fewer greens. Blueberries may have the best cognitive perks.
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