There are some great ideas out there. The Blue Zones give us some ideas about how to love to 100, but in a vague way. The Mediterranean and Japanese diets can get somewhat more details, but The Mind Diet uses directed Scientific studies to get Specifics. It is the specifics that give us the best information on how to keep our brains sharp
We need to look at each of the diets to see what I mean. The Blue zone foods are; Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, Nuts and seeds, Beans and legumes, Quality fats like olive oil, High-quality dairy products, like grass-fed goat milk and homemade cheeses, Fermented products like yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso and natto. Notice that we can only narrow it down to Vegetables or nuts and seeds. Compare this to the Mediterranean diet. It says; Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Now we have added things like whole grains and fish plus the use of olive oil. Chicken, cheese, and yogurt and relegated to the eat moderately group.
Now let’s look at the MIND diet. It has ten food groups. They are; Whole Grains, Leafy Greens, Berries, Tree Nuts, Beans, Vegetables, Wine, Fish, Poultry, and Olive Oil. Again, we get some more specifics. All three list vegetables, but the MIND diet has a separate list for Dark green leafy vegetables. Both of the others tell you to eat fruits. While the MIND diet encourages you to eat other fruits, it focuses on berries since that is the only fruit proven to help the mind. Finally, when you read nuts and seeds, you might just eat peanuts and seeds and think you are doing fine, but the MIND diet specifies that the only ones with mental strengthening properties are tree nuts.
Because all three have Vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and olive oil, we can expect all three to show decreased occurance of Alzheimers, which they do. When the diets are compared head to head, the MIND diet shows that it decreases the chance of Alzheimer’s more. Other studies show that Nuts keep your mind two years younger than others your age. Berries have a similar two year benefit, but the dark green leafy vegetables have the best results, a 9 years younger result. This is the common definition bf berry, not the scientific one which says avocados and even watermelons are berries, but Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not berries.
Fortunately, this is not an either or proposition. You can follow the MIND diet and still be following the Mediterranean Diet. The main difference with the Blue Zone diet is the use of cheeses and fermented products. They are allowed in a more restricted usage in the MIND diet, but not as encouraged as in the Blue Zone.
There is also a forbidden food list, but all agree on this; pasteries and sweets (>5/Wk), fried foods(0), red meat (>4/wk), butter(>1T/Day), and cheese(>2/wk). It really should be called the once in a rare while special treat list, but that is a mouthful. With the Blue zone, there is a question left unresolved about the cheese. In their book, there is a mention of the foods that the goats eat. The cheese might only benefit the Sardinians because of certain plants in their country. This is the Problem with the Blue Zones. We can’t tease out the specifics without specific studies. The MIND diet relies on those scientific tests.
As we read about the Blue Zone diet, we have to be careful not to accept everything point blank. Reading the studies that it uses helps, but keeping up to date on specific studies helps us tweek the diet for even more benefit. The three most important tweeks are Dark green leafy vegetables, tree nuts, and berries. Focus on eating these when the diet says vegetables, fruits, and nuts and seeds, and you will receive the best benefit.