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MIND diet: recipes that help protect the brain

Have you heard of the MIND diet? It’s a set of dietary practices designed to promote good brain health. Put it into practice with our recipe suggestions.
MIND diet recipes for protecting the brain
Keep your brain healthy and functioning at its best with the MIND diet.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2022-04-06Commentaires (0)

What is the MIND diet?

Developed by American epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is designed to both prevent cognitive decline, especially age-related memory problems, and optimize brain performance more generally (1).

It combines the best elements of two diets widely-acclaimed by the scientific community: the DASH diet (recommended for lowering high blood pressure and losing weight), and the Mediterranean diet (which protects the heart and blood vessels). With the correct nutrition and blood supply, the brain can function at full capacity.

Created in opposition to restrictive diets (which can be bad for our health), the MIND diet advocates the long-term adoption of a range of good nutritional habits for taking care of the brain. It reflects all the key principles of a balanced diet, and thus prevents any deficiencies.

Which foods should be prioritised?

Simply put, the MIND diet emphasises the consumption of raw ingredients, minimal salt (as it adversely affects blood pressure) and minimal saturated fats (which in excess, promote cardiovascular disease) (2-3). Thus, processed, fried and ‘fast-foods’ are all off-limits, and intake of butter, cheese and processed meats should be restricted.

Fats

Did you know the brain is one of the ‘fattiest’ organs in the body? Fats (or lipids) play a major structural role in the brain, in that they constitute the myelin sheath, the protective layer around nerve cells. A good intake of omega-3s, which the body is unable to make, is therefore essential (4).

Found in nut and rapeseed oils, as well as linseeds and chia seeds, these essential fatty acids are also major components of seafood in the form of DHA and EPA. These two omega-3s also help to maintain normal blood pressure. Opt for smaller fish (sardines, herrings, mackerel…) as they accumulate fewer brain-harmful heavy metals.

An excellent way of optimising your daily intake of these invaluable omega-3s is to supplement with EPA and DHA (try Arctic Plankton Oil, obtained from calanus oil, a species of zooplankton totally free from heavy metals) (5).

What about other types of fat? Always try to cook with olive oil, the indisputable star of the Mediterranean diet, with a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids. In addition, sprinkle a few nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts…) on your dishes, or slivers of avocado.

Protein

Protein-wise, lean poultry (chicken, turkey, duck …) are all foods to include because of their content both of amino acids, involved in neurotransmitter synthesis, and iron which supports the transport of oxygen in the body (6). Conversely, consumption of red meat should be restricted to a maximum of once a week).

Carbohydrates

The brain also consumes a significant amount of glucose, around 5g an hour! However, it doesn’t like to be fed it in fits and starts. So focus on eating slow-release complex carbohydrates found in wholegrains and pulses, rather than fast-acting sugars which produce sudden peaks in blood glucose levels (sweets, fizzy drinks, sweeteners…)

With a high content of vitamins and minerals, green vegetables (cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, salad leaves …) are very much center stage in the MIND diet (7). They are also high in fibre, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate which directly reaches the gut flora – indeed, the link between the microbiota and the brain continues to attract huge scientific interest (8).

As a back-up, you could opt for a soluble fibre supplement to support your microbiota (such as Organic Acacia, an organic acacia gum extract, very well-tolerated by the digestive system) (9).

For dessert, feast on berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries …) which contain anthocyanins and vitamin C. These fruits are delicate, however, and need to be eaten soon after purchase. For an easy way to benefit from their properties, you could take a highly-concentrated berry extract (such as Wild Maqui Berry, an extract of wild maqui berry, exceptionally rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins). (10)

Last but not least, remember to drink plenty of water! Even slight dehydration can significantly affect brain capacity (11).

Two MIND recipes to boost your brainpower

Recipe 1: quinoa, shrimp and broccoli salad

Cook half a cup of quinoa according to the instructions on the packet. Remove the shells from 10 cooked shrimps. Break 150g of broccoli into florets and steam for 10 minutes.

Make a vinaigrette by mixing together 1 tbsp of olive oil with a squeeze of lemon juice and, if liked, a crushed garlic clove.

Assemble all the ingredients on a plate, drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Recipe 2: chia and pomegranate pudding

The day before, mix 2 tbsp of chia seeds with 125ml of oat milk, stirring for 2 minutes. Leave to rest in the fridge overnight.

The next day, sprinkle generously with pomegranate seeds, diced kiwi and raisins.

MIND diet: example of a day’s menu

Adjust the quantities according to age, sex and level of physical activity.

Breakfast:

Home-made muesli (40g of oat flakes + half a banana + a handful of cranberries + 10 walnuts)
+ 125 ml of unsweetened plant milk

Lunch:

100g of grated carrot + 1 tsp of rapeseed oil
100g of grilled sardines + 65g of wholewheat spaghetti (uncooked weight) + 200g of spinach + 1 tsp of olive oil
1 fromage blanc with raspberry coulis

Dinner:

1 bowl of creamy pea and courgette soup
Salad of green lentils (70g uncooked weight), onion and parsley + 1 tbsp of walnut oil + 1 tsp of cider vinegar
1 ramekin of apple and cinnamon compote

MIND diet and nutritional supplements

In addition to the previously-mentioned Arctic Plankton Oil, Wild Maqui Extract and Organic Acacia, there are other supplements that combine well with the MIND diet:

References

  1. Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y, Sacks FM, Bennett DA, Aggarwal NT. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2015;11(9):1007-1014. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009
  2. Grillo A, Salvi L, Coruzzi P, Salvi P, Parati G. Sodium Intake and Hypertension. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):1970. Published 2019 Aug 21. doi:10.3390/nu11091970
  3. Briggs MA, Petersen KS, Kris-Etherton PM. Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Replacements for Saturated Fat to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. Healthcare (Basel). 2017;5(2):29. Published 2017 Jun 21. doi:10.3390/healthcare5020029
  4. Dyall SC. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015;7:52. Published 2015 Apr 21. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00052
  5. von Schacky C. Importance of EPA and DHA Blood Levels in Brain Structure and Function. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1074. Published 2021 Mar 25. doi:10.3390/nu13041074
  6. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. The Role of Protein and Amino Acids in Sustaining and Enhancing Performance. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. 14, Amino Acid and Protein Requirements: Cognitive Performance, Stress, and Brain Function. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224629/
  7. Morris MC, Wang Y, Barnes LL, Bennett DA, Dawson-Hughes B, Booth SL. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology. 2018;90(3):e214-e222. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815
  8. Mohajeri MH, La Fata G, Steinert RE, Weber P. Relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function. Nutr Rev. 2018 Jul 1;76(7):481-496. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy009. PMID: 29701810.
  9. Jarrar AH, Stojanovska L, Apostolopoulos V, et al. The Effect of Gum Arabic (Acacia Senegal) on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Adults at Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2021;13(1):194. Published 2021 Jan 9. doi:10.3390/nu13010194
  10. Bribiesca-Cruz I, Moreno DA, García-Viguera C, Gallardo JM, Segura-Uribe JJ, Pinto-Almazán R, Guerra-Araiza C. Maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis) extract improves memory and decreases oxidative stress in male rat brain exposed to ozone. Nutr Neurosci. 2021 Jun;24(6):477-489. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1645438. Epub 2019 Jul 28. PMID: 31354109.
  11. Zhang N, Du SM, Zhang JF, Ma GS. Effects of Dehydration and Rehydration on Cognitive Performance and Mood among Male College Students in Cangzhou, China: A Self-Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(11):1891. Published 2019 May 29. doi:10.3390/ijerph16111891
  12. Zhang M, Xu L, Yang H. Schisandra chinensis Fructus and Its Active Ingredients as Promising Resources for the Treatment of Neurological Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(7):1970. Published 2018 Jul 6. doi:10.3390/ijms19071970
  13. Ruíz-Salinas AK, Vázquez-Roque RA, Díaz A, Pulido G, Treviño S, Floran B, Flores G. The treatment of Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) improves the neuroplasticity of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in aged rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2020 Sep;83:108416. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2020.108416. Epub 2020 May 17. PMID: 32554223.
  14. Vargas-Sánchez K, Garay-Jaramillo E, González-Reyes RE. Effects of Moringa oleifera on Glycaemia and Insulin Levels: A Review of Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2019;11(12):2907. Published 2019 Dec 2. doi:10.3390/nu11122907
  15. Krishna GG. Effect of potassium intake on blood pressure. J Am Soc Nephrol. 1990 Jul;1(1):43-52. doi: 10.1681/ASN.V1143. PMID: 2104250.
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