'MIND diet' shows promise in reducing risk of Alzheimer's disease

Monday, October 10, 2016
'MIND diet' shows promise in reducing risk of Alzheimer's disease
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Doctors say making food together, eating together as a family and eating a largely plant-based diet is very promising for cutting the risk of Alzheimers disease.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Many have no doubt heard omega-3 fats in salmon and walnuts are brain boosters, and it's also true of avocados, beets and oats.

But Dr. Ayshea Sherzai, co-founder of Brain Health and Alzheimer's Prevention Program at Cedars-Sinai Hospital has the recipe for success.

"It's not one nutrient, it's not one vitamin, it's not one food for the brain. It's a collection, it's like a symphony," Sherzai said.

The food symphony created in the "mind diet" consists of lots of greens, berries, legumes and whole foods in general.

"The mind diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, very little animal fats, saturated fats and it's low in salt," said Sherzai.

Sherzai cited a study involving 140,000 California women following the Mediterranean diet that lowered their chance of stroke by 28 percent, which is significant.

But even better, the Mind Diet significantly reduced the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 50 percent, Sherzai said.

And the foods are tasty. Her brain bowl of dark greens, roasted sweet potatoes, toasty turmeric spiced chick pea and quinoa is topped with tear drop tomatoes, tahini dressing and sunflower seeds -- a veritable brain feast.

Her veggie lasagna has squash, peppers and eggplant slices for noodles baked up in a pesto and topped with an almond cheese.

Along with the food, something that's equally important, according Dr. Dean Sherzai, another neurologist, is being with your family.

"When a husband has dementia or Alzheimer's, the partner, the wife, has 600 times chance of developing Alzheimer's as well. So if we want to make a difference, it has to be on the family level," said her husband, Dr. Dean Sherzai.

Dean Sherzai says this is not soft science. There's no known cure yet for Alzheimer's, and the medications treat symptoms. But what they do see working?

"Food. Tasty food. Family food," said Dean Sherzai.

They say get your family in the kitchen to cook and also eat meals together. If you happen to be alone?

"Go create community. Go volunteer, go be part of a group," he said. "We have done research on this. The cognitive activity, it's not Sudoku, it's conversation. It's interaction."

And what better way to interact then making a mindful meal.

To make Dr. Ayshea Sherzai's Brain Bowl:

The Brain Bowl (Roasted sweet potatoes, roasted spiced chickpeas, turmeric-infused quinoa and lemon tahini herb sauce)

2-3 servings


1 large sweet potato or two small ones, skinned and sliced into inch thick slices

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tsp each of turmeric, coriander, cumin

1/2 tsp each smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne

1 cup uncooked quinoa

tsp turmeric powder

1/8 tsp salt

3 cups of kale, massaged with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt (or spring mix)

1 avocado, sliced

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp. hemp seeds

Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spread out the chopped sweet potato on one half of sheet. Put 1/2 tablespoon of oil and toss the potatoes until coated. Sprinkle with fine grain sea salt.

Roasted chickpeas: Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Transfer the chickpeas to a bowl, drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon oil, and sprinkle with the spices. Toss gently to combine. Transfer to the other half of the baking sheet next to sweet potatoes, spreading it in one layer.

Place both the sweet potato and chickpeas into the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and flip the sweet potato pieces (for even cooking, but not necessary). Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. When the chickpeas are golden and the sweet potatoes are lightly browned on the bottom and fork tender, they are ready.

Cook the quinoa meanwhile:

Rinse the quinoa very well in a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a medium pot. Add 1 3/4 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add tsp of turmeric and 1/8 tsp of salt. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 13-16 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Season with black pepper, optionally.

Assemble the bowl: greens at one quarter of a large shallow bowl, quinoa on the second quarter, roasted veggies and chickpeas in the rest of the bowl. Add the sliced avocado in the center, and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Sprinkle with sunflower and hemp seeds.

Lemon Tahini herb sauce


1/4 cup tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tbsp chopped dill

1/8 tsp salt, or to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients and chill before serving with the Brain Bowl.