The new created diet may help slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors.
The new diet is called the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), the eating plan is a mix of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
Key foods to eat on the MIND diet are vegetables, berries and fish, and foods to avoid are sugar and pastries.
“The foods that promote brain health, including vegetables, berries, fish and olive oil, are included in the MIND diet,” said Dr. Laurel J. Cherian, a vascular neurologist.
The researchers found that following the diet could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in the elderly and even those who didn’t adhere to the diet strictly had a reduced risk of cognitive decline.
The foods in the unhealthy list are red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. Butter is limited to less than 1.5 teaspoons a day, you should have less than five servings a week of sweet treats and pastries, and less than one portion a week of whole fat cheese and fried or fast food.
To adhere to the MIND diet, you need to make sure you eat at least three servings of whole grains a day, as well as two portions of vegetables, one of which must be a leafy green.
A glass of wine a day is also encouraged, you should snack most days on nuts, have beans roughly every other day, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and have fish once a week.
“It made me wonder if those findings would hold true for stroke survivors, who are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population.”
From 2004 to 2017, Cherian and colleagues studied 106 participants of the Rush Memory and Ageing Project who had a history of stroke for cognitive decline, including decline in one’s ability to think, reason and remember.
Participants were put into groups based on whether they were highly adherent to the MIND diet, moderately adherent or least adherent. Other factors known to affect cognitive performance were also taken into consideration, such as age, gender, education level, participation in cognitively stimulating activities, physical activity, smoking and genetics.
The study participants whose diets scored highest on the MIND diet score had substantially slower rate of cognitive decline than those who scored lowest.
The Mediterranean and DASH diets have been shown to be protective against coronary artery disease and stroke, but it seems the nutrients emphasized in the MIND diet may be better suited to overall brain health and preserving cognition,” scientists said.
The MIND diet supercharges the nutritional content of what we eat. The objective is to emphasize foods that will not only lower our risk of heart attacks and stroke but make our brains as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.
On the other hand, Cherian cautions that the study had a relatively small number of participants and its findings cannot be interpreted in a cause-and-effect relationship.
“This is a beginning study that will hopefully be confirmed by other studies, including a randomized diet intervention study in stroke survivors,” scientists said. For now, they think there is enough information to encourage stroke patients to view food as an important tool to optimize their brain health.