A randomized, controlled trial compared the impact on cognitive function of a MIND diet with mild caloric restriction to a typical diet with mild caloric restriction. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet emphasizes foods that have been associated with lower risk of dementia, such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, and olive oil.
Six hundred cognitively healthy, overweight or obese older adults with “suboptimal” diets and a family history of dementia were assigned to follow either the MIND diet or their regular diet, both with mild caloric restriction, for three years. The MIND diet group were given blueberries, nuts, and olive oil. Both groups received individualized dietary counseling. For the MIND-diet group, this counselling focused on shifting dietary intake to align with the prescribed dietary pattern, along with behavioral strategies to lose weight. The control group focused on calorie tracking, portion control, and behavioral strategies for weight loss.
The groups lost similar amounts of weight. Improvements in cognition were not statistically significant between the two groups and brain MRIs showed similar brain changes.
This study adds to the body of knowledge around dietary intake and brain health. When looking at these results, it’s important to consider that the control-diet group may have improved their dietary intake as they focused on losing weight, and the weight-loss itself may have positively impacted brain health in both groups. The MIND diet, like the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary patterns on which it is based, is an excellent choice for general health.