When was the last time you tried a new diet? Would it interest you if I told you that it’s called the healthy brain diet?

If you’ve been following me on the Quite Franklin podcast or read some of my blog posts, you’ll know that I’m not one for any particular diet.

I’ve mostly relied on a few core principles to guide my nutrition throughout the years.


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There have been plenty of discussions about diets and carb-cycling on Quite Franklin. Several of my guests like Mike Dolce and more recently, Joel Jamison hail from athletic performance backgrounds. 

Despite a fair coverage on physical diets – the kinds of foods we put into our body to fuel athletic performance – we’ve yet to put out the same amount of content dedicated to our mental nutrition.

So, the healthy brain diet, also known as the MIND diet, has been on my mind for some time, no pun intended.

Are there foods we should be consuming to help our cognitive function and performance? Is memory boosting foods just another marketing fad?

Let’s find out!


What is the MIND diet?

The MIND diet combines principles from two well-known diets; the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Its primary aim is to reduce the risk of developing dementia and neurocognitive decline that usually occurs as we age.

What are the key components of the MIND diet?

There are several principles and key components that make up the MIND diet. It prescribes 10 brain nourishing foods you should eat and another five foods that you should limit when possible.

Here are some of the brain-healthy foods recommended under the MIND diet:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries like blueberries and strawberries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine


The five foods you should limit:

  • Cheese
  • Butter/margarine
  • Red meat
  • Fried food
  • Sweets


What are the nutritional principles behind the MIND diet?

The nutritional principles behind the MIND diet don’t deviate far from traditional healthy diets. 


  • Antioxidants

The MIND diet is heavy on antioxidants like berries, which are important in reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress promotes the growth of free radicals in the body, which are harmful to cells and especially our brain.


  • Green vegetables

The MIND diet emphasizes green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach or collard greens for their rich nutritional content but also includes other vegetables for variety. These are part of anti-inflammatory foods that can help reduce the inflammation that contributes to chronic diseases.


  • Low processed foods

The MIND diet recommends limiting excess sugars and processed foods with higher sugar content or chemical substitutes. Small amounts of higher quality processed foods can be enjoyed, like dark chocolate which might have antioxidant properties. Eating them in low amounts helps you to fight urges to binge on low-quality chocolate.


  • Make nuts your snack

The MIND diet promotes nuts as an alternative to processed snacks like chips or pastries. It is recommended to eat a handful daily to get your supply of Vitamin E while not taking on too many calories. Also, choose low sodium or raw unsalted versions of nuts.


  • Make fish a weekly staple

The MIND diet prefers fish over meat, particularly fatty fish like salmon, trout or sardines for the omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been found in the cell membranes of brain cells and are vital in maintaining brain function. Researchers also discovered improvements in brain function in people with mild cognitive impairment who had consumed omega-3 fatty acids.


Why you should try the MIND Diet?

Even though it is hard to establish true causation between the MIND diet and mental health or depression, consuming certain foods can help advance your state of mind.

On Quite Franklin, mental health advocate and suicide survivor Kevin Hines shared how eating the right foods helped to regulate his mood and clear brain fog. 

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center found that the participants who followed the MIND diet moderately later in life did not have cognition issues. 

As we age, our brains develop protein deposits called amyloid plaques and tangles, which build up in the nerve cells and can interfere with our thinking and problem-solving abilities.


Final thoughts

It’s so much easier to incorporate a new exercise or overhaul your training regimen entirely than it is to implement a new diet.

A new diet requires discipline and adjustment to your daily consumption of meals and schedule. If you are already eating moderately healthily, then it won’t be too difficult to try the MIND diet. It just incorporates other health and nutrition principles from the more popular diets. 

I do like my red meat, so if you want to strictly abide by the MIND diet, you can substitute red meat with poultry like chicken. A slight bonus – it might be lighter on your wallet with the way meat prices have been rising.