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Top 10 brain foods to keep the brain young

Scientists have isolated the top 10 types of brain foods to keep the brain young for older adults. These foods may form the key to brain health and the eating pattern called the Mind Diet.

I previously wrote on the fascinating research behind the MIND Diet that reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's by more than half. The MIND diet has 15 components comprised of 10 foods that protect the brain, and 5 types of foods that may accelerate aging and harm cognition.

A MIND plate of foods to keep brain young

The MIND Diet scores a point for each component, 10 for each brain-friendly food, and five for the foods you may want to avoid or limit, for a total of 15. However, studies show that any nourishing food you eat will have an effect on delaying brain aging. This means that the diet is not an all or nothing way of eating. I don't believe in good or bad foods, and the MIND Diet does not attach a judgment on each food. It only means these foods have been studied for brain health and you may choose to include these foods daily.

Additionally, research on the MIND Diet confirms that even a food considered to possibly harm brain health will not have that effect in small amounts. Specifically, a tablespoon of butter every day will not change anything, if you are consuming enough of the other MIND foods. It's important you do not compose a list of foods you will never eat, or restrict entire food groups. These foods are merely suggestions to keep the brain youthful, and the research is still incomplete.

The Mediterranean and DASH patterns of eating, on which the MIND Diet is based, all have one thing in common: more fruits and vegetables. See The MIND Diet by Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, for excellent information on how to include MIND foods, with details on servings, recipes, and meal suggestions.

Braintastic bowl with foods to keep brain young

The top 10 brain-friendly foods on the MIND Diet are the following:

  • whole grains (any grain with a good amount of fiber)

  • all vegetables

  • green, leafy vegetables

  • nuts

  • beans

  • berries

  • lean protein

  • fish

  • olive oil

  • wine

The five foods to avoid or limit are the following:

  • Butter and stick margarine

  • full-fat cheese

  • fried foods

  • red meat

  • pastries and sweets.

Strawberries on the younger brain Mind Diet

I am entirely sure you are familiar with the foods that are not as nutritious as green vegetables. However, the surprising benefit of the MIND Diet is that it's easy to throw a handful of berries and walnuts into your morning breakfast, have a half-cup of beans in your taco, or include fish and wine for dinner. With these kinds of habits, you'll be well on your way to a younger brain that will impress your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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