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Top Foods to Avoid on the MIND Diet

April 17, 2018
Categories: Research

It’s no secret that our diet affects more than our weight. What we eat and drink also impacts the health of our brain and heart. The MIND diet, short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet, is meant to decrease the general decline in brain health that happens as people age. It combines pillars of the Mediterranean and DASH diets to create brain-friendly food guidelines that improve cognitive health.


The traditional cooking style of Mediterranean countries is heart-healthy because it emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, red wine, and healthy fats like olive oil. The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a plant-based diet that encourages eating many of those same foods.

Combined, the two create a brain-healthy diet, that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53 percent, plus help verbal memory and slow cognitive decline, according to Mayo Clinic. Below are a few reminders of what to avoid on the MIND diet to keep your brain healthy longer.

Foods to Avoid

Red Meat

Aim to eat red meat less than four times a week to stick to the MIND diet guidelines. Instead, opt for fish or poultry which have unsaturated fats that actually provide health benefits, according to the American Heart Association.

Fried and Fast Food

When you’re cooking your fish or chicken, plan on preparing it by baking, broiling, or grilling it instead of frying it. As tempting as fried or fast food may be, the MIND diet discourages it. Try to limit eating fried food to no more than once a week. Pack snacks or meals when you’re heading out for the day or even on a quick errand run. That way you can avoid the drive-through when you’re hungry and away from home.

Desserts and Sweets

Cut down eating pastries and sweets to less than four times a week. While that may sound challenging, there are many other food items the MIND diet encourages that can satisfy your sweet tooth. Make berries or wine your dessert instead of ice cream or cookies. Research shows drinking red wine in moderation may protect brain cells. White wine has its benefits too – drinking and even smelling red or white wine stimulates the brain.

Butter and Margarine

Limit your intake of butter or margarine to less than one tablespoon per day. Instead, cook with olive or canola oil, which has been shown to protect brain tissue from Alzheimer’s.


Try limiting eating cheese to less than once per week on the MIND diet. If you often use cheese or salt to give flavor to your favorite dishes, try adding spices or herbs instead. The Mediterranean diet traditionally uses herbs and spices to season food as a healthy alternative.

For more information about nutritious eating for yourself or the seniors in your life, speak with the friendly team at Artis Senior Living.

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