Be MINDful with your Meals

When it comes to nutritional advice, there are so many trend diets it’s easy to get confused or on the wrong path. Lately, low-carb and whole-food diets are getting loads of attention from health gurus and Hollywood red carpets, and the trend is trickling down to everyday people. And we’ve all seen the photos of drastic weight loss on the Internet. But are these fad diets clinically safe?

The MIND diet combines the nutritionally proven components of the Mediterranean and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets, which are two of the healthiest regimes out there. Research has shown these diets can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several other diseases. But with the average age increasing and growing numbers of patients with Alzheimer’s and other brain-related illnesses, other nutritional researchers wanted to put together a diet specifically to help improve brain function and prevent dementia.

One of the appealing features of the MIND diet is its simplicity. There are no strict guidelines, rather a shortlist of foods to eat and others to avoid. Many everyday items are allowed like fruit, sweets, and wine in moderation. Choosing whole grains over simple carbs is central. So the appeal of this way of eating is wide-reaching. 

So what does being MINDful mean?

Eat MORE of these!

  • Green, leafy vegetables: 6+ servings per week. This includes kale, spinach, cooked greens, and salads.
  • All other vegetables: Add one more, non-starchy veggie per day.
  • Berries: Eat berries at least twice a week. Focus on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries for their antioxidant benefits
  • Nuts: 5+ servings of most types of unsalted, unflavored nuts per week.
  • Olive oil: Cook with olive oil most of the time.
  • Whole grains: Aim for at least three servings daily. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and 100% whole-wheat bread.
  • Fish: Eat fish at least once a week. It is best to choose fatty, flavorful fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna – they have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Beans: Include beans in at least four meals every week. This includes all beans, lentils, and soybeans.
  • Poultry: Double up on chicken or turkey—meaning poultry as an entrée at least twice a week. (Sorry --FRIED fish or poultry is not encouraged)
  • Wine: A glass a day is recommended and both red and white wine is allowed. Keep in mind that red wine is preferred…think a ruby red glass of shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec or syrah. Cheers!

Eat LESS of these!

  • Butter and margarine: No more than one tablespoon per day (about 14 grams). And not for cooking.
  • Cheese: All types of cheese should be limited to one serving per week.
  • Red meat: Try to limit to three servings each week. This includes all beef, pork, lamb and products made from these meats.
  • Fried food: Limit your consumption to less than once per week.
  • Pastries and sweets: Try to consume less than 4 servings per week, including ice cream, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, donuts, candy because they contain saturated and trans fats.

Although the MIND diet was conceived to improve brain health and function, the founding scientists think it may also work by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and infection, and if left unchecked can contribute to the onset of many chronic diseases. Maybe you’ll decide to be more MINDful of what you eat and see how it makes you feel.

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