Top Tips on Eating Right for Brain Health

In August, I was happy to develop and present an interactive webinar with Q&A on the MIND diet for the National Peanut Board’s health ambassadors. My goal was to spread the word on the power of healthy food choices to support optimal brain health among top nutrition professionals so that they can help share the message more widely! I received an honorarium for my talk, but was not compensated for this blog post.

We talked about brain physiology, healthy aging, cognitive aging, how to maintain brain health as we age, and most of all, how to protect your brain with your fork. I’m sharing the top takeaways and practical tips we discussed at the end. Let me know if you try any of them!


  1. The brain is a physical organ, and needs to be nourished and protected.
  2. Nutrition is fundamental for brain health at every stage of life from in utero, through childhood through to older adulthood.
  3. Wear and tear on our brains starts and builds up decades before symptoms show up, so the earlier we eat to support brain health the better. That said, it’s never too late to start eating right. 
  4. What we put in our bodies can help or hurt our brains each moment of each day, but it’s the foods, eaten in a pattern, over time, that have the biggest impact. 
  5. Dementia is not a normal part of aging.
  6. Nutrition has a role in building cognitive resilience. 
  7. Taking care of the brain is not a “tomorrow problem” but a “today opportunity” to impact how we think, feel, and manage our lives now and in the future. 

My Tips

  1. Remember
    1. Your cultural foods are mental health
    2. It’s the foods, eaten in a pattern, over time, that helps or hurts.
    3. Heart health is brain health. 
    4. Hurt the heart, hurt the brain. 
    5. Help the heart, help the brain.
  2. Timesavers
    1. Canned beans are always ready
    2. Frozen fruits and veggies are always in season
    3. 10-minute whole grains are a weeknight game changer
  3. Start small with smart swaps
    1. Salty snack: Try nuts instead of chips
    2. After meals: Enjoy fruit platters
    3. Carbs: Go 50/50 with whole and refined grains vs 100% refined
  4. Eat Your Hydration
    1. Remember that soups, coffee and tea are mostly water
    2. If it’s crisp, there’s water inside. Go for cucumbers, bell peppers, and celery.
    3. If it’s juicy, there’s water inside. Enjoy citrus, watermelon and tomatoes.
  5. Eat More Plants
    1. Replace part or all of ground meat with rice, beans, or nuts 
    2. Chop meat smaller and make it flavorful like a condiment
    3. Start building your plate with a big bed of leafy greens
  6. Meal Prep
    1. Batch-cook whole grains and beans to use all week – they also freeze well. Use them in a grains & greens salad, grain bowl, or a bean chili. 
    2. Smoothie prep is simple. Add all your favorite ingredients, except the liquid, into freezer-safe containers to enjoy any time.
    3. When life gets busy, it’s great to have make-ahead breakfasts like egg frittatas.
  7. Basic, but good
    1. Pack healthy snacks so you’re never without
      1. Nuts and dried fruit are a great example. This simple snack has saved me on more than one occasion.
    2. Eat colorful fruits and veggies every day
      1. Richly colored plant foods are especially high in brain-protective polyphenols.
    3. Drink water in the morning
      1. Your brain has been hard at work clearing out metabolic waste all night and it’s thirsty in the morning
    4. Consider a multi or vitamin D
      1. Multivitamins are an accessible way to make up for any nutrient gaps, though they do not substitute for a balanced diet
      2. Many Americans fall short on vitamin D and it can be harder to find in foods, so a supplement may be helpful

The MIND Diet book explains the science behind the landmark brain-healthy MIND diet research in an approachable and understandable way. More importantly, it includes a guide to putting it into practice, including helpful tips and 75 simple recipes from more than 25 leading registered dietitians and health organizations. Free updates from are available h

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top