10 foods to help cut your Alzheimer's risk

Health

For years the adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has served us well. But there's a new mantra we really should consider following: whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, and a glass of wine a day may keep Alzheimer's disease away.

These foods, along with fish, beans, berries, poultry, and olive oil, are at the center of what's known as the MIND diet, which is essentially a mash-up of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). In putting these two highly regarded eating plans together (both offer additional health benefits as well), the creators of the MIND diet have landed on a relatively simple way for all of us to help preserve and protect our vital mental functions.

Here's how it came together. For nearly 10 years, nutritional epidemiologists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed residents of retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. In that time, they found that participants who closely adhered to the MIND diet lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer's by 53 percent. That translates to brains that functioned as if they were about eight years younger than those of participants who didn't make the food switch. Even those who followed the diet only somewhat still benefitted—seeing a 35 percent reduction in their chance of developing Alzheimer's. The results were published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

If you'd like to get a jump-start on keeping your mental acuity sharp, experts suggest adding the following 10 brain-healthy food groups to your daily menu:

  1. green leafy vegetables
  2. other vegetables
  3. nuts
  4. berries
  5. beans
  6. whole grains
  7. fish
  8. poultry
  9. olive oil
  10. wine (in moderation)

Note: "Cheating" is allowed, within reason. For example, fast or fried foods and cheese should be enjoyed less than once a week, while red meat consumption should be limited to less than four times a week. You can indulge in desserts, pastries, or sweets less than five times a week, and use butter or margarine as long as it's less than a tablespoon a day.

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