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September 12, 2018

MIND diet may delay dementia

Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwest Community Healthcare Wellness Center

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a dedicated, international campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. Of late, researchers are focusing more attention on the link between nutrition and the role it may play in preventing or delaying dementia.

Some research has shown that the MIND diet (Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), developed by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, may lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet combines two diets – the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

The MIND diet recommends the following food items to maintain brain health:

  • Green vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Wine (in moderation)

According to the MIND diet, the following foods should be avoided:

  • Red meat
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried or fast food

Although more research is needed, the MIND diet can be one of various strategies to slow cognitive decline among the aging population. It is encouraged that you consult with your physician prior to starting any diet.

Want to know more about this topic? Attend the lecture, “Nutrition and Brain Health,” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19 in the NCH Wellness Center. Cost is $5 for NCH Wellness Center members and patients in the cardiopulmonary rehab program; $15 for nonmembers; and free to Medfit participants. To register, contact the NCH Wellness Center at 847-618-3501.

Here’s a recipe that fits with the MIND Diet protocol:

Tuna Patties with a Kick


  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 – 4 oz. cans of water-packed tuna, drained (12 oz. total)
  • 1 egg, beaten with fork
  • ¼ cup finely-diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp snipped and chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp diced fresh carrot
  • 1 tbsp dry whole-grain bread crumbs, or as needed
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil


Place potato in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until tender, about 20 min. Drain and allow to steam-dry a minute or two. Mash with a potato masher or fork in a large bowl.

Mix the drained tuna, egg, onion, Dijon mustard, parsley, carrot, bread crumbs and seasonings in with the mashed potato until well blended. Divide the tuna mixture into eight equal portions and shape into patties.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the tuna patties until browned and crisp, about three minutes each side.

Serve with an additional dab of hot sauce or light mayo. Pair with a tossed salad of mixed greens, slivered almonds and top with fresh berries and a drizzle of vinegar/olive oil dressing.

Nutrition facts

One serving equals one patty. Protein: 25 grams; Fat: 5.6 grams; Total carbohydrate: 20.7 grams; Sodium: 210 milligrams. Exchanges: 3.5 protein; 1 fat; 1 starch.