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5 MIND Diet Foods That Can Help You Live Longer

A registered dietitian and brain health nutrition expert shares everything to know about the MIND Diet.

Did you know that your diet has the potential to lengthen your life? Making crucial tweaks in the kitchen and knowing just the right foods to put on your shopping list can boost your longevity. Take the MIND Diet, for example, which is all about keeping your brain healthy, strong, and young. Eat This, Not That! spoke with Maggie Moon, MS, RD, brain health nutrition expert and best-selling author of The MIND Diet (Simon & Schuster), who reveals five MIND Diet foods that can help you live longer.

Keep reading to learn all about the MIND Diet, along with five of its foods that can extend your life. And when you're finished, be sure to check out the 6 'Power Foods' That Helped This Woman Lose 100 Pounds.

How did the MIND Diet come to be?

MIND Diet concept, foods like salmon, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, and nuts on drawing of brain

If you're wondering what inspired the MIND Diet to come to fruition, Moon says it all comes down to science. "Research studies [found] that the Mediterranean and DASH diets were protective against cognitive decline even though that's not what they were known for, and other studies found certain foods like leafy greens and berries were protective, too," she explains. "Before the MIND Diet, findings were first published in late 2015, there was all this directional evidence, but no dietary pattern specifically for brain health."

The MIND Diet blossomed out of two "heart-healthy diets," and was then maximized to boost brain health based on evidence-backed nutrients and foods that ward off cognitive decline and dementia, Moon tells us.

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What is the MIND Diet all about?

low-fat diet for weight loss, healthy fats concept

Essentially, this diet supplies your brain nourishment so it's protected against inflammation and oxidative stress that can be incredibly damaging—especially as you grow older.

"Early research on the MIND Diet found that it had the potential to slow brain aging by up to 7.5 years," Moon says. "A new study adds to this line of thought. It found that people with higher MIND Diet scores—meaning they followed most of the recommendations—were indeed biologically aging at a slower pace overall."

The majority of the MIND Diet focuses on plant-based foods such as fresh veggies (like leafy greens), beans, whole grains, berries, olive oil, and nuts. Small portions of seafood and poultry are included as well. "You won't be eating as much fried food, butter, cheese, meat, or pastries and sweets," Moon adds. "These foods aren't eliminated—they're just limited—so many people find the MIND Diet less restrictive and easier to stick to."

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The top five MIND Diet foods that can help you live longer:

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy Green Salad

Leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamin E, folate, flavonoids, and carotenoids, all of which are linked to decreasing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. "In large U.S.-based studies, the greatest protection came from leafy green vegetables," Moon explains. "Find ways to add leafy greens to your meals every day. In my house, we buy pre-washed baby greens in bulk and add them to just about everything—with scrambled eggs, in soups and smoothies, and even under the occasional takeout meal."

2. Vegetables

heirloom tomatoes, concept of anti-inflammatory foods for weight loss

According to Moon, you should incorporate a minimum of one extra veggie into your snacks and meals every day. "Look for variety here, maybe some red tomatoes or orange (or purple!) carrots for extra carotenoids—a class of brain-supportive antioxidants," she encourages.

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3. Berries

bowl of fresh berries

Update your shopping list with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and even blackberries! "Berries are one of our most polyphenol-rich foods that go a long way to keep our inflammatory index down, which is important for brain health since the brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress," Moon tells us. "The MIND Diet includes berries at least twice a week. When they're out of season or you're just worried about them going bad, I like to recommend frozen."

4. Nuts

mixed nuts

Nuts provide your body with healthy fats, which preserve the health of your blood-brain barrier and brain cells. "The brain is 60% fat, and it prefers unsaturated fats like those found in nuts to keep it running on rails," Moon points out. "Nuts also provide antioxidant vitamin E, plant protein, and B vitamins important for neurotransmitter synthesis."

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5. Seafood


Last but not least, one of the best MIND Diet foods to help you live longer is seafood. Moon recommends opting for sustainable seafood that's "lower on the food chain," such as striped bass, arctic char, anchovies, flounder, or seaweed. "Fish provides valuable protein and brain-healthy B vitamins as well as omega-3s, the brain's preferred form of fats for optimal function," says Moon.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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