Foods and Recipes that Combat Cognitive Decline

dementia diet

The phrase “you are what you eat” suggests that what you put into your body affects you in every way, and that includes your brain health. We all know that certain foods are bad for us, such as fast food and heavily processed products or those that are very high in fat or sugar. Some foods should only be consumed in moderation, such as ice cream. Then there are some that are considered powerhouses of health, such as those included in the MIND Diet.

In this case, “MIND” stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Following this combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets has been shown to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53% among those who follow it to the letter, but it also showed a 35% lowered risk benefit among those who loosely followed the diets, according to WebMD. Though it was originally recommended for seniors to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's, today it is also recommended for those who have suffered a stroke[1]. 

But no matter what your age may be, the foods you eat right now can make a health difference. That’s because the changes Alzheimer’s causes in the brain can begin well before you show any symptoms of a problem[2]. Though you can’t change some of your risk factors, such as genetics or age, you can control things like the amount of time you exercise, the cognitive exercises you do, and the foods you eat. The National Institute on Aging points out that certain foods may reduce dementia risk by affecting biological processes in the body, such as reducing inflammation, improving the gut microbe, or indirectly affecting risk by helping you avoid obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.

Changes in your brain can happen early, and eating the right foods helps you to protect yourself. Changes in your body can happen before you know it too, which is why it’s so important to protect yourself as you age. A medical alert device can help you do that. If you suffer a fall or other emergency, you might need help immediately, especially if you are one of the unlucky 20% who wind up with a brain injury or broken bones[3]. A medical alert pendant or bracelet can give you the peace of mind that if you do suffer a fall or any other emergency, help is literally one button push away.

This can be especially helpful in the kitchen, where there is a risk of injury from knives, hot stove burners, and the like. Remember, a medical alert system with fall detection is great for other emergencies as well. Simply press the button and help will be on the way in moments.

Let’s look at some great foods and recipes that are good for your brain.

Leafy Green Vegetables

These powerhouses of antioxidants should be eaten at least six times per week. Tired of salads? Try this different version of a vegetable plate. Serve with rice or quinoa for a satisfying dish.

Leafy Green Sauté

·         2 bunches of chopped Swiss chard, collard greens, or other greens

·         3 cloves of chopped garlic

·         1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

·         Dash of olive oil

Add the chopped garlic to a skillet with a little bit of water. Allow it to simmer a bit until tender. Add a dash of olive oil and the chopped greens. The skillet will appear quite full at first, but the greens will cook down quickly, leaving you with much less than what you started with! Cook the greens, turning them frequently, until they are wilted. Add the soy sauce and continue to sauté the greens until they are soft, which should take about 10 minutes.

Other Vegetables

Vegetables are welcome on the plate, at least one serving per day. This blend of delicious veggies can make a great side dish or stand on its own for a hearty snack.

Veggie Salad

·         1 chopped cucumber

·         1 chopped yellow pepper

·         1 chopped orange pepper

·         1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

·         ¼ cup sliced red onion

·         3 minced garlic cloves

·         Juice of one lemon

·         1 tbsp. olive oil

·         1 tbsp. stoneground mustard

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         Sunflower seeds

In a large bowl, add the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and onion. In a smaller bowl, blend the other ingredients to create a dressing. Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to coat them evenly. You can eat this immediately or chill it for a few hours to allow the flavors to mingle. Add the sunflower seeds right before eating.


Reach for these little gems of sweetness at least twice per week. According to Live Science, certain berries – especially strawberries and blueberries – are especially good at helping prevent cognitive decline.

Healthy Fruit Salad

·         ¼ cup honey

·         ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

·         1 finely zested lemon

·         1 pound hulled and quartered strawberries

·         ½ pound blueberries

·         ¼ pound raspberries

·         3 peeled and sliced kiwis

·         2 peeled mandarin oranges

·         2 peeled and chopped apples

·         1 peeled and chopped mango

·         1 cup halved grapes

Blend the honey, lemon zest, and orange juice in a small bowl. In a large bowl, add all the fruit and toss gently to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit and toss to combine. Chill the fruit salad until ready to serve. Toss it once again right before serving.

Whole Grains

Three servings every day of whole grains can help keep your mind strong, and they tend to work wonders for your body, too. The Mayo Clinic points out that whole grains keep you satisfied longer and can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Whole Wheat Biscuits

·         2 cups whole wheat flour

·         4 tsps. baking powder

·         ½ tsp. salt

·         4 tbsps. cold unsalted butter

·         1 cup buttermilk (or milk of any kind)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Blend together the dry ingredients and then add the butter, using a fork or pastry blender to incorporate it until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the milk and mix it all together with a wooden spoon. When it comes together, knead the dough a few times, then turn it out onto a floured cutting board. Press it out with your hand until the dough is about ½ inch thick. Cut the biscuits into rounds, using a biscuit cutter or a floured drinking glass.

Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.


Fish offers a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and should be consumed once per week on the MIND diet. This recipe can use any type of white fish, which can include cod, haddock, rockfish, sole, grouper, or snapper.

Lemon Pepper Garlic Fish

·         3 tbsps. olive oil

·         1/2 tbsp. butter

·         3 cloves minced garlic

·         1 large lemon

·         1 – 1 ½ pounds white fish fillets

·         ½ tsp. sea salt

·         ½ tsp. pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently heat the olive oil and butter in saucepan until the butter is melted. Add the garlic and let it simmer for one minute, then zest the lemon and add the shavings to the pan. While that cooks, cut the lemon into thin slices and place them in the bottom of your baking dish.

Season both sides of the fish generously with the salt and pepper, then place the fish on top of the lemon slices. Pour the butter mixture over the fish. Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately.


Two servings per week is a great rule of thumb for poultry. It brings many things to the table, including high amounts of selenium, phosphorous, B-vitamins, and complete protein[4].

Easy Roasted Chicken

·         1 large chicken, about 4 pounds

·         4 tbsps. olive oil

·         1/2 cup white wine

·         1 lemon, cut in half

·         4 cloves minced garlic

·         3 fresh rosemary sprigs

·         Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 430 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a roasting pan. Remove any giblets and neck meat from the chicken and dry it well with paper towels. Pour the olive oil, wine, and half of a juiced lemon over the chicken, making sure to get it on every part of the skin and inside the body cavity.

Season it liberally with salt and pepper. Rub the minced garlic over the chicken. Stuff the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon into the cavity.

Place the chicken breast-side up into the roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen string if desired.

Bake the chicken for at least one hour. Baste it with pan juices after 30 minutes of cooking. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear when the flesh is pierced or a thermometer reads at least 165 degrees. At that point, baste the chicken one more time and broil it for 2-3 minutes to produce a golden crust.


Try to get these little powerhouses of fiber at three times per week.          

Easy Pinto Beans

·         1 pound dried pinto beans

·         1 small diced onion

·         4 cloves minced garlic

·         1 chopped jalapeno pepper (if desired)

·         Small ham hock or slice of country ham

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         2 cups chicken broth

Start this recipe the night before by soaking the beans in a generous amount of water overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans, removing any small rocks or hard beans that didn’t plump up. Pour the beans into a pot with a lid. Add the other ingredients. After adding the chicken broth, add enough water to cover the beans to at least 2 inches.

Place the lid on the pot and simmer the beans over low to medium heat for anywhere from two to four hours. Check the beans now and then and add more water if needed. Beans are ready to serve when they are tender.


Containing good fats and plenty of energy, nuts should be consumed five times per week. They are a great way to add some crunch to salads or a veggie side dish such as green beans, or to simply eat as a great snack. Just be careful with the salt content (unsalted are best for health) and avoid sugar-coated varieties. Pure, raw, unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, or pecans are the best choices.


Though this has been a controversial guideline, many experts believe that one glass of wine per day is good for your health[5]. Before you indulge, make sure it’s ok for you to do so – you might be on certain medications that specify to avoid alcohol, or have certain health conditions that make it necessary to avoid alcohol.

This recipe incorporates wine in a way that allows you to enjoy it without actually pouring a glass.

Chicken Marsala

·         1 ½ pounds chicken tenderloins

·         3 tbsps. whole-wheat flour

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         3 tbsp. olive oil

·         1 tbsp. unsalted butter

·         8 ounces mushrooms of your choice

·         1 finely chopped shallot or onion

·         2 cloves minced garlic

·         ½ cup chicken broth

·         ½ cup dry Marsala wine (or any leftover red wine will do)

·         2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Coat the chicken with the flour, salt and pepper by placing all in a Ziploc bag and shaking gently. In the meantime, heat the oil and 2 tbsps. of the butter in a large skillet. Shake off the excess flour from the chicken and place the tenderloins in the pan. Cook them for six minutes or so, turning them once during that time. Place the chicken on a plate and set it aside.

Melt the last tbsp. of butter in the pan. Add the mushrooms and cook for about four minutes, until they begin to brown and soften. Add the shallots, garlic, and a touch of salt; cook until the shallots are tender. Pour in the broth and wine. Add the thyme. Bring it to a boil, stirring often. Gently boil until the sauce reduces and is slightly thickened.

Add the chicken and its juices back to the pan. Simmer until the chicken is heated through and the sauce has reduced a bit more to create a thick, rich coating on the chicken.

Olive Oil

Among all the oils you could potentially use to cook food, olive oil is considered one of the best. There is no actual recommendation for how much to use, but it is the only cooking oil recommended by the MIND diet. It stands to reason that you should use it in moderation.

Olive Oil Cake

·         1 cup olive oil, plus a bit more for the pan

·         1 cup all-purpose flour

·         1 cup whole wheat flour

·         1 tsp. salt

·         1 tsp. baking powder

·         1 ½ cups granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

·         3 large eggs

·         1 tbsp. lemon zest

·         2 tbsps. lemon juice

·         1 ¼ cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-inch cake pan with olive oil.

In a large bowl, blend together the flours, salt, and baking powder. Set that aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and lemon zest until the mixture is fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce the speed and add the milk and lemon juice, then add the flour mixture, a small bit at a time.

Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer in the middle comes out clean.

Protecting Your Body and Mind at Any Age

Preventing cognitive decline should start much sooner than your golden years. The MIND diet can benefit anyone, even those who are quite young. There are other things that can protect you as well, such as aging in place home modifications that are actually good for anyone in the home. Some of the more common options include grab bars in the bathroom, a roll-in shower, and lowered countertops in the kitchen to accommodate those who need to sit while prepping meals.

Another great protection is an emergency response solution. This can include fall prevention systems, such as those from Alert1 Medical Alert Systems. The options are wide and varied, including those that are designed for the home or those meant for on the go use. A medical alert bracelet, pendant, or watch can all provide different yet powerful protection if an emergency or accident does occur.

Enjoy the foods and recipes recommended on the MIND diet, and maybe we’ll find the old saying is true—an apple a day really does keep the doctor away!