What your older family member eats plays an important role in their health. Many people are familiar with the idea of eating a heart-healthy diet. But, what about eating a diet that supports brain health? Okay, admittedly, if you’re concerned about your aging relative’s brain health, you’ve probably done some reading on the subject and seen some pretty crazy suggestions about what can help to preserve memory. However, the MIND diet isn’t one of those fads. In fact, it’s a scientifically tested eating plan that could help to slow your older family member’s brain aging by 7.5 years. The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s a combination of the DASH diet designed to reduce heart disease risks, like high blood pressure, and the Mediterranean diet, which is widely accepted as one of the healthiest ways to eat and offers protective benefits for the brain. So, what does it look like to follow the MIND diet? Some of the main components are described below.
Pack on the Veggies
Vegetables, of course, are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. While the MIND diet suggests eating plenty of vegetables, it focuses on adding more leafy greens into the diet. Leafy greens include things like kale, collard greens, spinach, and lettuce. Research shows that leafy greens are especially good for lowering dementia risk and slowing cognitive decline. Leafy greens contain important nutrients like vitamin E, folate, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which have been linked to better brain health. The MIND diet recommends eating at least six servings of leafy greens each week. In addition, older adults should eat at least one serving of other vegetables per day.
Use Olive Oil for Cooking
Olive oil is a big part of the Mediterranean diet and is also used in the MIND diet. It’s the oil that should be used the most for cooking, rather than margarine or butter. Olive oil is considered a healthy fat. Choose olive oil bottles that are labeled “extra virgin” and in a dark colored bottle (light causes it to degrade faster).
Weekly Fish Meals
Seniors should strive to eat fish at least once per week. Research shows that eating fish once per week improves seniors’ scores on memory tests. Fatty fish are best since they offer omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of fatty fish are salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
Go Meatless Occasionally
The MIND diet encourages eating less meat to protect brain health. The ideal MIND diet includes red meat fewer than 4 times per week. In fact, it may be best to include a few meals per week that contain no meat at all. Instead, get protein from beans or lentils.
If your aging relative would like to try the MIND diet, an elderly care provider can help. An elderly care provider can assist with planning meals that stick to the guidelines of the MIND diet but still include foods the senior loves. Elderly care providers can also cook the meals. And, since part of following the Mediterranean diet is to eat with others, an elderly care provider can offer the senior companionship while they eat.
If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring elderly care in Roswell, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.