Health & Wellness

Eating for Cognitive Health

By Isabelle Huot


More and more studies seem to show that the right diet can help to slow decline in cognitive function.

A meta-analysis of more than 34,000 subjects found that adopting the Mediterranean diet considerably reduced the chances of developing cognitive disorders and that consuming olive oil and nuts was linked to improved cognitive function.

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, is also garnering a lot of positive scientific evidence. It emphasizes plants and legumes and limits meat and sweets. Following this diet has been associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory) and slower decline due to aging.

Researchers also observed a reduced risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and a slower progression of these neuro-degenerative diseases.

According to the MIND diet, here are the 10 foods or food groups to emphasize:
• legumes
• nuts
• berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) • extra-virgin olive oil
• fish
• poultry
• leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale)
• all other vegetables (and plenty of them) • whole grains
• wine (in moderation)

These are the five to avoid:
• butter and hard (a.k.a. stick) margarine • full-fat cheeses
• fried foods
• red meat (beef, pork, veal)
• sweets (candy, sugary drinks, desserts)

Did You Know?

While data on any beneficial effects of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements on cognitive performance are inconclusive, studies of a subgroup of the population with high levels of homocysteine (an amino acid linked to heart disease and Alzheimer’s) showed that taking vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements can result in some cognitive benefits.


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