MIND Diet From RUSH Ranked Among Best for 2023

Brain-healthy diet recognized by U.S. News for sixth straight year
Brain-healthy food

For the sixth year in a row, the MIND diet has been recognized as a Best Diet for 2023 by U.S. News & World Report.

RUSH was the birthplace of the MIND diet, which has routinely earned a spot among the top five diets on U.S. News & World Report's annual “Best Diets” list.

The MIND diet was ranked third as best plant-based diet and fourth as best diet overall, best diet for bone and joint health and best family-friendly diet; and fifth as the best diet for diabetes, healthy eating and heart health.

The MIND diet was ranked in 10 categories:

  • Best Plant-Based Diets, No. 3
  • Best Diets for Bone & Joint Health, No. 4
  • Best Family-Friendly Diets, No. 4
  • Best Diets Overall, No. 4
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating, No. 5
  • Best Diets for Diabetes, No. 5
  • Best Heart Healthy Diets, No. 5
  • Easiest Diets to Follow, No. 7
  • Best Weight-Loss Diets, No. 11
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets, No. 23

The 2023 rankings were determined using an updated methodology developed under the guidance of more than 30 nutritionists, doctors and epidemiologists. Twenty-four diets were assessed, and the list provides facts about eating plans and ranks them on a range of levels, from heart healthiness to their likelihood of helping with weight loss.

“The MIND diet is perfect for someone looking to be realistic and make sustainable lifestyle changes this year,” said Jennifer Ventrelle, RDN, an assistant professor with the departments of Preventive Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at RUSH. “The recommendations are meant to be specific enough to stay true to its research-based foundation, but also broad enough to allow flexibility into an existing lifestyle."

The late nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues at RUSH and Harvard developed the MIND diet based on research showing a correlation linking certain foods and nutrients to effects on brain function. The MIND diet emphasizes healthy food groups while limiting unhealthy foods and is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

“The MIND diet has been shown in several large-scale studies throughout the world and with different populations to be important for slowing the rate of cognitive decline and risk of dementia among older adults” said Lisa Barnes, PhD, a neuropsychologist with the RUSH Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “The protective effects are evident even independent of the common brain changes that we know happen with aging.”

In 2017, researchers at RUSH and Harvard School of Public Health began a three-year trial to compare the MIND diet to a usual diet to see what effects each have on the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The two research sites enrolled a total of 604 people who were overweight, had suboptimal diets and had a history of Alzheimer’s dementia in the family, all factors linked to Alzheimer’s dementia risk in observational studies.

The MIND diet has proven to provide long-term protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, while also promoting overall health, including cardiovascular benefits demonstrating that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.

Researchers have found there are brain health benefits even from moderately following the MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay. For example, a person who is having difficulty limiting intake of red meat to less than four servings per week could still be considered a healthy eater, provided they were reaching the goal of at least one serving of leafy green vegetables each day. 

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