Trial of the MIND Diet for Prevention of Cognitive Decline in Older Persons

N Engl J Med. 2023 Aug 17;389(7):602-611. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2302368. Epub 2023 Jul 18.


Background: Findings from observational studies suggest that dietary patterns may offer protective benefits against cognitive decline, but data from clinical trials are limited. The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, known as the MIND diet, is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, with modifications to include foods that have been putatively associated with a decreased risk of dementia.

Methods: We performed a two-site, randomized, controlled trial involving older adults without cognitive impairment but with a family history of dementia, a body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) greater than 25, and a suboptimal diet, as determined by means of a 14-item questionnaire, to test the cognitive effects of the MIND diet with mild caloric restriction as compared with a control diet with mild caloric restriction. We assigned the participants in a 1:1 ratio to follow the intervention or the control diet for 3 years. All the participants received counseling regarding adherence to their assigned diet plus support to promote weight loss. The primary end point was the change from baseline in a global cognition score and four cognitive domain scores, all of which were derived from a 12-test battery. The raw scores from each test were converted to z scores, which were averaged across all tests to create the global cognition score and across component tests to create the four domain scores; higher scores indicate better cognitive performance. The secondary outcome was the change from baseline in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-derived measures of brain characteristics in a nonrandom sample of participants.

Results: A total of 1929 persons underwent screening, and 604 were enrolled; 301 were assigned to the MIND-diet group and 303 to the control-diet group. The trial was completed by 93.4% of the participants. From baseline to year 3, improvements in global cognition scores were observed in both groups, with increases of 0.205 standardized units in the MIND-diet group and 0.170 standardized units in the control-diet group (mean difference, 0.035 standardized units; 95% confidence interval, -0.022 to 0.092; P = 0.23). Changes in white-matter hyperintensities, hippocampal volumes, and total gray- and white-matter volumes on MRI were similar in the two groups.

Conclusions: Among cognitively unimpaired participants with a family history of dementia, changes in cognition and brain MRI outcomes from baseline to year 3 did not differ significantly between those who followed the MIND diet and those who followed the control diet with mild caloric restriction. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging; number, NCT02817074.).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / prevention & control
  • Dementia* / prevention & control
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Diet, Sodium-Restricted
  • Humans

Associated data