top of page

The MIND Diet

The mind diet

Posted: 15/02/2018

Updated: 15/02/2018

According to TIME Health, the MIND diet was developed specifically to address cognitive issues and ranks as one of the top five most effective diet in 2018 (1, 2).

That said, what exactly is the MIND diet? Let us take a look.

MIND diet defined...

The term MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This diet is a combination of the two very popular diets – the Mediterranean and DASH diet.

Here is a quick catch-up for those who don’t know what the Mediterranean and DASH diets are. Both diets emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and unsaturated fats with olive oil being the principal fat in the Mediterranean diet. These diets are low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates (3). Both diet types were ranked as the top two most effective diets in 2018 (4).


The above-mentioned diet types aim to lower high blood pressure, diabetes, the development of cardiovascular diseases and several other diseases.


The MIND diet, however, focuses more on reducing brain deterioration, and the occurrence of mental health diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s (5).​


10 recommended foods

5 foods to limit


According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, this disease is occurring in individuals younger than 65 years of age (6). However, following the MIND diet, one can reduce the chances of this occurring.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago showed that after four and a half years, all three diets offered significant protection against Alzheimer’s when closely followed.

The Mediterranean diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by 54%, the MIND diet by 53%, and the DASH diet by 39%.

Only the MIND diet, however, protected against Alzheimer’s when not followed strictly. Participants who followed the diet even in a moderate amount was associated with a 35% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (7).


However, studies that were done were observational and hence, they can’t prove cause and effect, they can only detect an association.

Food for the mind
  • Leafy green vegetables

  • Other vegetables

  • Berries

  • Fish

  • Beans

  • Poultry 

  • Nuts

  • Wholegrains 

  • Olive oil

  • Red wine

  • Butter and margarine

  • Cheese

  • Red Meat

  • Fast/fried foods

  • Pastries and sweets

Food for the mind

Graphics from Canadian Living

The MIND diet emphasizes natural plant-based foods and limited intakes of animal and high saturated fat foods. It also uniquely specifies 10 healthy food groups that should be included in your diet and 5 unhealthy food groups that should be avoided.


Let us take a look at what you should eat when following the MIND diet plan.

10 foods

10 foods to eat more of

These are categorized as "brain healthy" because they are foods that contain many different nutrients and antioxidants important for brain function.

Green leafy vegetables

6 or more servings per week

The diet’s top brain healthy food groups include green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards and other greens which are packed with folate, vitamins A and C and other nutrients.​​​

All kinds of vegetables

1 or more serving per day in addition to the green leafy vegetables

It is recommended to eat a salad and at least one other vegetable every day to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. You can get creative and make different types of salads with vegetables. Do not be afraid to add legumes or nuts to them, or even some fish. This can help add some flavour to your salads.​


2 or more servings per week

The MIND diet is unlike the DASH and Mediterranean diet which stresses on fruit as a general category. Instead, blueberries among all other berries have been shown to be particularly helpful in improving memory performance. Research has shown that the compounds in berries such as flavonoids and especially anthocyanidins are beneficial for brain health and Alzheimer’s disease (8).


1 or more serving per week

It is best to choose fatty varieties such as salmon, sardines and herrings just to name a few. Fatty fish contains a high level of healthy fats such as Omega- 3 fatty acids, important for synaptic proteins in the brain which has been shown to improve mental health (9).


4 or more servings per week

Beans including legumes are great sources of protein and fibre and low in calories and fat. Protein is known to help in the production of muscle tissue. In other words, the growth of lean muscles. These also help keep your mind sharp as part of the MIND diet.


2 or more servings per week

Try to eat chicken or turkey at least twice a week. Fried chicken does not count.


5 servings or more per week

Nuts contain healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants, and other studies have found they can help lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease. Avoid salted, roasted and fried varieties. The types of nuts are not specified but it is best to choose a variety to obtain a diverse range of nutrients.


3 or more servings per day

Whole grains are a key component of the MIND diet. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread or rye bread.

Olive oil

Use as the main cooking oil

Olive oil beat out other forms of cooking oil and fats in the MIND diet. The researchers found people who used olive oil as their primary oil at home saw greater protection against cognitive decline.

Red wine

1 glass per day

Red wine has a compound resveratrol which may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. However, swap for purple grape juice instead if you prefer not to drink.


When you follow this diet, you can eat more than just these 10 foods. However, the more you stick to the diet, the better your results are said to be.

5 foods

5 foods to avoid

The mind diet recommends limiting the following five foods. Researchers encourage limiting the consumption of these foods because of their high trans fatty acids, saturated fats and sugar content. These can elevate levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and turn on inflammatory genes, raising risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia and Alzheimer's disease (10).

Butter and margarine

Less than 1 tablespoon (around 14 grams) per day

Try swapping butter and margarine for olive oil.​


Less than 1 serving per week

Red meat

Less than 4 servings per week

This includes all beef, pork, lamb and products made from these meats.​​​

Fast/Fried foods

Less than 1 serving per week

The MIND diet discourages fried food, so limit your consumption to less than once per week.

Pastries and sweets

  • References
    Irritable bowel syndrome [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 22 June 2018]. Saha, L. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20(22), p.6759. D. Cashman, M., K. Martin, D., Dhillon, S. and R. Puli, S. (2016). Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Clinical Review. Current Rheumatology Reviews, 12(1), pp.13-26. Guidelines--Rome III Diagnostic Criteria for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. (2006). Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, 15(3), pp.307-12. Drossman, D. (2016). Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: History, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Rome IV. Gastroenterology, 150(6), pp.1262-1279.e2. Ikechi, R., Fischer, B., DeSipio, J. and Phadtare, S. (2017). Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Clinical Manifestations, Dietary Influences, and Management. Healthcare, 5(2), p.21. Enck, P., Aziz, Q., Barbara, G., Farmer, A., Fukudo, S., Mayer, E., Niesler, B., Quigley, E., Rajilić-Stojanović, M., Schemann, M., Schwille-Kiuntke, J., Simren, M., Zipfel, S. and Spiller, R. (2016). Irritable bowel syndrome. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 2, p.16014. Chey, W., Kurlander, J. and Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. JAMA, 313(9), p.949. Hungin, A., Chang, L., Locke, G., Dennis, E. and Barghout, V. (2005). Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 21(11), pp.1365-1375. Gibson, P., Varney, J., Malakar, S. and Muir, J. (2015). Food Components and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology, 148(6), pp.1158-1174.e4. Card, T., Canavan, C. and West, J. (2014). The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical Epidemiology, p.71. Occhipinti, K. and Smith, J. (2012). Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review and Update. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 25(01), pp.046-052. Chey, W., Kurlander, J. and Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. JAMA, 313(9), p.949. Zhou, Q. and Verne, G. (2011). New insights into visceral hypersensitivity—clinical implications in IBS. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 8(6), pp.349-355. Ghoshal, U., Kumar, S., Mehrotra, M., Lakshmi, C. and Misra, A. (2010). Frequency of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Non-Specific Diarrhea. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 16(1), pp.40-46. Ghoshal, U., Shukla, R. and Ghoshal, U. (2017). Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Bridge between Functional Organic Dichotomy. Gut and Liver, 11(2), pp.196-208. Ghoshal, U. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: Meaningful association or unnecessary hype. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20(10), p.2482. Marshall, J., Thabane, M., Garg, A., Clark, W., Moayyedi, P. and Collins, S. (2010). Eight year prognosis of postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome following waterborne bacterial dysentery. Gut, 59(5), pp.605-611. Marshall, J., Thabane, M., Garg, A., Clark, W., Salvadori, M. and Collins, S. (2006). Incidence and Epidemiology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome After a Large Waterborne Outbreak of Bacterial Dysentery. Gastroenterology, 131(2), pp.445-450. Spiller, R. and Campbell, E. (2006). Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 22(1), pp.13-17. Ericsson, C., Hatz, C. and DuPont, A. (2008). Postinfectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 46(4), pp.594-599. Grenham, S., Clarke, G., Cryan, J. and Dinan, T. (2011). Brain?Gut?Microbe Communication in Health and Disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 2. The Brain-Gut Connection [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 June 2018]. Folks, D. (2004). The interface of psychiatry and irritable bowel syndrome. Current Psychiatry Reports, 6(3), pp.210-215. Fichna, J. and Storr, M. (2012). Brain-Gut Interactions in IBS. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 3. El-Salhy, M. and Gundersen, D. (2015). Diet in irritable bowel syndrome. Nutrition Journal, 14(1). Irritable Bowel Syndrome - National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 June 2018]. Folks, D. (2004). The interface of psychiatry and irritable bowel syndrome. Current Psychiatry Reports, 6(3), pp.210-215. Ikechi, R., Fischer, B., DeSipio, J. and Phadtare, S. (2017). Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Clinical Manifestations, Dietary Influences, and Management. Healthcare, 5(2), p.21. Rao, S., Yu, S. and Fedewa, A. (2015). Systematic review: dietary fibre and FODMAP-restricted diet in the management of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 41(12), pp.1256-1270. Moayyedi, P., Quigley, E., Lacy, B., Lembo, A., Saito, Y., Schiller, L., Soffer, E., Spiegel, B. and Ford, A. (2014). The Effect of Fiber Supplementation on Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(9), pp.1367-1374. FRANCIS, C. (1994). Bran and irritable bowel syndrome: time for reappraisal. The Lancet, 344(8914), pp.39-40. Vazquez–Roque, M., Camilleri, M., Smyrk, T., Murray, J., Marietta, E., O'Neill, J., Carlson, P., Lamsam, J., Janzow, D., Eckert, D., Burton, D. and Zinsmeister, A. (2013). A Controlled Trial of Gluten-Free Diet in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea: Effects on Bowel Frequency and Intestinal Function. Gastroenterology, 144(5), pp.903-911.e3. Ford, A., Quigley, E., Lacy, B., Lembo, A., Saito, Y., Schiller, L., Soffer, E., Spiegel, B. and Moayyedi, P. (2014). Efficacy of Prebiotics, Probiotics and Synbiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(10), pp.1547-1561. Basturk, A., Artan, R. and Yilmaz, A. (2016). Efficacy of synbiotic, probiotic, and prebiotic treatments for irritable bowel syndrome in children: A randomized controlled trial. The Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology, 27(5), pp.439-443. Zhang, Y., Li, L., Guo, C., Mu, D., Feng, B., Zuo, X. and Li, Y. (2016). Effects of probiotic type, dose and treatment duration on irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed by Rome III criteria: a meta-analysis. BMC Gastroenterology, 16(1). Guandalini, S., Magazzù, G., Chiaro, A., La Balestra, V., Di Nardo, G., Gopalan, S., Sibal, A., Romano, C., Canani, R., Lionetti, P. and Setty, M. (2010). VSL#3 Improves Symptoms in Children With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Multicenter, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Study. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 51(1), pp.24-30. Paineau, D., Payen, F., Panserieu, S., Coulombier, G., Sobaszek, A., Lartigau, I., Brabet, M., Galmiche, J., Tripodi, D., Sacher-Huvelin, S., Chapalain, V., Zourabichvili, O., Respondek, F., Wagner, A. and Bornet, F. (2007). The effects of regular consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on digestive comfort of subjects with minor functional bowel disorders. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(02). Khanna, R., MacDonald, J. and Levesque, B. (2013). Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, p.1. Peppermint Oil for IBS: Does it Work? [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 June 2018]. Grigoleit, H. and Grigoleit, P. (2005). Peppermint oil in irritable bowel syndrome. Phytomedicine, 12(8), pp.601-606. Khanna, R., MacDonald, J. and Levesque, B. (2013). Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, p.1. IBS Diet: What to Do and What to Avoid [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 June 2018]. Johannesson, E., Simrén, M., Strid, H., Bajor, A. and Sadik, R. (2011). Physical Activity Improves Symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 106(5), pp.915-922.

Less than 4 servings per week

This includes most of the processed junk food and desserts like ice cream, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, candy, etc. 

bottom of page