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[5 min read] The MIND diet – Nutrition for dementia

Did you know that dementia affects over 400,000 people living in Australia and almost 50 million people worldwide [1]? Dementia is a term used to describe abnormal changes in the brain. It describes the loss of memory, reasoning, and cognitive abilities, with the most common form being Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Eventually, the symptoms can become so severe they prevent the person from managing even essential daily functions. 

Evolving research suggests that diet-related lifestyle changes can be neuroprotective [2] and are worth discussing with patients, to help support neurological as well as general health in primary care settings.

For further information on this topic, you may be interested to learn more about the HealthCert Professional Diploma program in Medical Nutrition Management.

What is the MIND diet?

One specialised dietary pattern shown to support cognitive function and delay decline is called the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It includes foods and food components reflecting nutrients shown to lower risk of AD and which confer potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits [3], as well as reducing potentially harmful beta-amyloid proteins (which scientists believe may be one of the primary causes of AD [4]).

A cohort study following 923 participants for an average of 4.5 years showed that just a ‘moderate’ adherence to the diet brought about a 53% reduction in the risk of developing AD [5].

Breaking down the MIND diet

This dietary pattern has ten critical areas of focus:

  1. Leafy green vegetables at least six times a week
  2. All other types of vegetables, at least once daily
  3. Berries at least twice per week
  4. Raw nuts without salt or oil, five times per week. Nuts are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and natural antioxidants, which all contribute to a healthy brain [6].
  5. Wholegrains, at least three servings daily
  6. Fish, at least once a week
  7. Poultry, twice a week
  8. Legumes, every other day
  9. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) for cooking or as a condiment. EVOO is packed with polyphenols that may support cognition and prevent formation of amyloid deposits [7].
  10. Red wine, one glass a day (unless a patient doesn’t drink)

Implementation of the MIND Diet depends on each individual and where they are willing to start. If your patient is open to adding leafy greens more consistently in their diet, start with this goal and provide plenty of options for an array of flavours. If they prefer to reduce red meat intake, then discuss alternative protein sources. Long term, these small changes will become part of their normal eating habits with the ultimate goal of supporting brain health.

In summary:

  • The MIND diet incorporates key tenets from the Mediterranean and DASH diets and can support a healthy brain and slow age-related declines in brain function.
  • It contains foods rich in certain vitamins, carotenoids, and flavonoids that are believed to protect the brain by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Primary care physicians should work closely with patients to incorporate MIND diet principles in a sustainable and practical way.

Learn more about dietary strategies and approaches to support neurological health with the online HealthCert Professional Diploma program in Medical Nutrition Management.

– Lynette Law, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Read another article like this one: Nutritional genomics and personalised nutrition


Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Satellite Symposium in Sydney. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2022. 18(1): p. 178-190.

  1. Dominguez, L.J. and M. Barbagallo, Nutritional prevention of cognitive decline and dementia. Acta Biomed, 2018. 89(2): p. 276-290.
  2. Schwingshackl, L. and G. Hoffmann, Mediterranean dietary pattern, inflammation and endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2014. 24(9): p. 929-39.
  3. DeTure, M.A. and D.W. Dickson, The neuropathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Molecular Neurodegeneration, 2019. 14(1): p. 32.
  4. Morris, M.C., et al., MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement, 2015. 11(9): p. 1007-14.
  5. Theodore, L.E., et al., Nut Consumption for Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review. Adv Nutr, 2021. 12(3): p. 777-792.
  6. Román, G.C., et al., Extra-virgin olive oil for potential prevention of Alzheimer disease. Rev Neurol (Paris), 2019. 175(10): p. 705-723.

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