According to a new study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the secret to mental longevity may lie in green leafy vegetables, beans, berries and a daily glass of wine. Researchers found that seniors who followed what's known as the MIND diet, or Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, were able to slow their mental aging process by up to 7.5 years.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH eating plan meant to reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It involves 15 dietary components, including eating at least three servings of whole grains, a leafy green vegetable and another type of vegetable per day. It also recommends a daily glass of wine and beans and poultry twice a week. Also very important is avoiding red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and fried food.
The researchers followed 960 participants with an average age of 81.4 years for a period of 4.7 years. Information about their diet was recorded, and they underwent cognitive testing each year.
The study found that the people who followed the MIND diet the most strictly aged less cognitively than their peers who didn't follow the diet. The most diligent MIND diet followers had an average brain age 7.5 years younger than those who followed the diet the least by the end of the study period.
"Everyone experiences decline with aging; and Alzheimer's disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Therefore, prevention of cognitive decline, the defining feature of dementia, is now more important than ever," researcher Martha Clare Morris said in statement.