The most obvious and promising benefit of the MIND diet is the possibility of significantly reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
To help establish a relationship between the MIND diet and this lower risk, the 2015 study conducted at Rush University in Chicago — which has been nicknamed “The MIND Diet Study” — evaluated the incidences of Alzheimer’s disease among 923 participants who were already closely following the MIND, the DASH, and the Mediterranean diet (based on their questionnaire responses) over a five-year period.
The study found that the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent.
Another exciting revelation is that you don’t have to follow the diet strictly to enjoy its brain-boosting benefits. Even those who moderately follow the diet may have a 35 percent reduced risk for the disease, the authors note. Still, following it closely has an upside: It’s comparable to being 7.5 years younger cognitively than people who don’t follow the diet diligently, according to a June 2015 study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. (7)
In addition to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the MIND diet can also reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging found this way of eating cut the risk and delayed the progression of the disease among older people. (8)
Because this diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, you may also experience health benefits associated with these particular diets.
The DASH diet has been linked to reductions in hypertension, thereby diminishing the risk of stroke and heart attack, according to the Mayo Clinic. (9) The National Institutes of Health have also endorsed the plan for heart health, as has U.S. News & World Report, which releases annual rankings on the best popular diets. (10, 11)
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean diet is a popular plan touted by dietitians, and for good reason: A study published in the July–August 2015 issue of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases linked the approach to improvements in blood pressure, a reduced risk of heart disease, and better insulin sensitivity. (12) That makes it a plus for anyone at risk of heart disease or anyone managing prediabetes or diabetes.
The only known disadvantage of the MIND diet (if you even want to call it a disadvantage) is that it requires patience, effort, and careful meal planning to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of food servings according to the diet’s guidelines.
To stay committed to the goal, come up with an accountability system and plan out all your meals for the week — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. More labor-intensive meals can be partially prepared ahead of time: Precut and store vegetables in plastic bowls, cut up fruit for smoothies and place in individual freezer bags, and precook your rice and beans.