MIND diet boosts brainpower, stroke researchers say

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- About 800,000 Americans suffer from a stroke every year, and survivors have double the risk of getting dementia compared to the general population.

Dr. Laurel Cherian, a neurologist from Rush University, was attending the International Stroke Conference.

"For me, you know, when someone has a stroke that's an accelerated risk. It puts them into a higher risk category so it's particularly important for those patients to really try to optimize their brain health," she said.

As part of the meeting, Cherian and her colleagues shared their findings.

They discovered one of the best ways to boost a stroke patient's brain function and stop cognitive decline is through food. In their study they followed 106 stroke survivors.

"People who were eating the MIND diet actually functioned much better over time than those who didn't," Cherian said.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the DASH Diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, and the Mediterranean Diet, which focuses on healthy fats.

"And that means cooking with olive oil and using olive oil as the primary fat in our diets, including one meal of fish per week," Cherian said.

Cherian and her colleagues also recommend six servings of leafy greens per week. You should also add super foods known to support the brain, such as berries and nuts.

Cherian said that also means steering clear of certain foods.

"Avoiding certain foods that are highly processed, such as sweetened foods, highly salted foods and a lot of processed meats," she said.

The good news - this diet isn't just beneficial for stroke patients. Previous research shows it can dramatically improve the brain function of people who really stick to it.

"They tested them every year and the group that was eating the MIND diet at the end of that period functioned like they were 7 and a half years younger than the least compliant group," Cherian said.

Making small daily changes can add up to big benefits.

The American Stroke Association said 80 percent of strokes are preventable and following a healthy eating plan, like the MIND diet, can be a powerful tool for brain health.
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