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New 'mind' diet may cut Alzheimer's risk by half

New York: A new diet which researchers say is easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet may help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) by as much as 53 percent, says a study.

A hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, the benefits of the new diet appropriately known by the acronym MIND - Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay - are detailed in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

"One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD," said Martha Clare Morris, professor at the Rush University in the US.

The MIND diet that Morris and colleagues developed has 15 dietary components, including 10 "brain-healthy food groups" -- green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine -- and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

With the MIND diet, a person must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study. Berries are also included in the MIND diet.

In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

The MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes.

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