A hybrid diet mixing aspects of the Mediterranean diet and one known as DASH designed to stop high blood pressure could significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The new diet – called by the acronym MIND – has been found to lower the risk by as much as 53pc in those who stuck to it rigidly.
It cut the risk by 35pc for those who followed the diet moderately well.
The diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a director of Nutrition, and her colleagues in Chicago.
They based it on years of previous research about what foods and nutrients have goo and bad effects on the functioning of the brain over time.
The MIND diet 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 who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefit.
However, he or she must limits unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 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 the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet.
“Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.
Morris said, “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study.
“The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.
“That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.
The study is published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.