Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Improve Brain & Heart Health

Food can offer a neurocognitive benefit, and a means to improve heart health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. 

Prior research indicated that the Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The MIND diet promotes consumption of plant-based food while also limiting food high in saturated fat and animal-based foods.  MIND foods to increase include: berries, green leafy vegetables, other non-starchy vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, and olive oil.  Foods to avoid include: butter and margarine, cheese, red meat, fried foods, and sweets.

In a new study, researchers examined data from 2,512 Framingham Offspring Cohort participants, average age of 66 and 55% female.  They found that the MIND diet positively benefited the heart’s left ventricular function which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body.  The study suggests that foods that provide neurocognitive protection also promote heart health.  The positive brain and heart impacts of the MIND diet may be due to antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties in the plant-based foods.

Takeaway:  To promote brain and heart health, consider increasing your intake of plant-based foods, particularly a variety of vegetables, berries, and nuts.

Sources

Maura E. Walker, et al., Associations of the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet with Cardiac Remodeling in the Community: The Framingham Heart Study, British Journal of Nutrition, Feb. 23, 2021, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/associations-of-the-mediterraneandash-intervention-for-neurodegenerative-delay-diet-with-cardiac-remodeling-in-the-community-the-framingham-heart-study/ED007B476553BAA836D2DF356A2DA584.

Keith Pearson, PhD, RD, The MIND Diet: A Detailed Guide for Beginners, Healthline, Jul. 30, 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mind-diet#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4.

Mayo Clinic Staff, Improve Brain Health with the MIND Diet, Jul. 31, 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/improve-brain-health-with-the-mind-diet/art-20454746.

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