New diet shown to significantly reduce the risk for Alzheimer's.

A new study, reported in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, finds that adhering to a new diet, developed by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, can significantly lower the risk for developing Alzheimers.

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is a hybrid of two other diet regimens (the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets) previously found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke.  

The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who rigorously adhered to the diet, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Martha Clare Morris, PhD, a professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology at Rush. “I think that will motivate people.”

The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and three to four daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

The MIND diet includes at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine. It also involves snacking most days on nuts and eating beans every other day or so, poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. Dieters must limit eating the designated "unhealthy" foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of Alzheimer's, according to the study.

"Even moderate adherence to the MIND diet showed a statistically significant decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," says study author Martha Clare Morris, a professor of epidemiology at Rush University in Chicago. "Neither the Mediterranean diet or DASH had that benefit with moderate adherence."

Learn more about the MIND Diet here, here, and here