“U.S. News & World Report” has ranked the MIND diet, said to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016.

The MIND (a hybrid of Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet — created, studied and reported on by researchers at Rush University Medical Center — also tied for third for best diet for healthy eating and was ranked in the top five in five categories and the top 20 in seven in these categories:

  • Easiest Diets to Follow: No. 1 (tie)
  • Best Diets Overall: No. 2 (tie)
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating: No. 3 (tie)
  • Best Diets for Diabetes: No. 4 (tie)
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diets: No. 4
  • Best Weight-Loss Diets: No. 16 (tie)
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets: No. 21 (tie)

The magazine ranked 35 eating plans.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for Alzheimer’s,” said Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., a Rush nutritional epidemiologist who developed the MIND diet with colleagues. Recent studies have shown that the diet helped lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in study participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35% in those who followed it moderately well. The researchers also have found that adhering to the diet may slow cognitive decline among aging adults, even among those not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that they protect against dementia as well.

To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need 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 — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. Also, people on the diet should limit intake of designated unhealthy foods, especially butter, sweets and pastries, whole-fat cheese and fried or fast food.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris says, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

Morris cautioned that the cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.