While there's no such thing as the perfect diet, there's one that's pretty damn close, at least according to a press release from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It's called the MIND diet, and it's been ranked the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.
A blend between the Mediterranean and DASH diets (more on the DASH specifics in a bit), the MIND diet highlights foods and nutrients that work to fight the risk of Alzheimer's. It has 15 main dietary components, including 10 "brain-healthy food groups"—green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine—and "five unhealthy groups"—red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
The guidelines are fairly loose. It's recommended to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day, along with a glass of wine, a snack most days consisting of nuts, beans every other day, poultry and berries at least twice a week, and fish at least once a week.
The researchers say to really ward off the devastating effects of cognitive decline, we have to limit our consumption of butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), baked goods (including packaged and processed), whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for all of the above). But they don't completely nix them from the diet plan, which gives you a nice reprieve.
But, the MIND diet isn't the only good diet option out there (though it did rank in an impressive seven different categories in the report!) To create the annual rankings you'll read below, the U.S. News editors and reporters spent months examining eating plans by mining medical journals and government reports to create in-depth profiles explaining how each diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, and what it's like to actually live on the diet. Here's how 35 popular diets stacked up.
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