Can Diet Can Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

You are here:

Table of Contents

There is no single prevention strategy or “Alzheimer’s diet” to stop cognitive decline, but balanced diets rich in leafy greens and healthy fats may reduce your risk of developing both.

Brain-healthy diets like KetoFLEX 12/3, the Mediterranean Diet, and the MIND Diet are all associated with a potentially lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. While these aren’t fully preventative and may not reverse cognitive decline, they offer some hope for how to eat for a healthier brain.

Does Nutrition Impact the Risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

Nutrition plays a role in reducing your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a specific and rapid cause of dementia. Research shows that diet impacts brain health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, benefiting memory and cognition.

That said, there are no foods that prevent Alzheimer’s completely or remove plaque from the brain once amyloid plaques have formed. (Amyloid plaques and tau tangles play a key role in weakening cognitive function and memory in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.)

Your diet is part of a holistic approach to brain health. A healthy diet plays a role in dementia risk and prevention alongside physical activity, consistent sleep, reduced stress, and blood pressure management. Your genetics and even your oral health also play a role.

What you eat is an important piece of the puzzle that you can control, and improving your diet is part of a comprehensive approach to better aging and overall wellness.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed on Health Topics like this!
Get primehealth updates right to your inbox

3 Diets Linked with Alzheimer’s Prevention

KetoFLEX 12/3

The KetoFLEX 12/3 diet is a twist on traditional ketogenic diets. It offers more metabolic flexibility for those worried about cognitive decline. Traditional keto diets eliminate almost all carbohydrates from your diet to achieve ketosis, while this one allows for carbs from non-starchy vegetables.

Common foods on the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, wild-caught seafood, gluten-free foods, and both prebiotics and probiotics.

The 12/3 in the name refers to the intermittent fasting aspect. The diet encourages 12-hour fasting periods every day, including at least 3 hours of fasting before bedtime. Research shows that fasting gives the body more time to repair oxidative cell damage, including in the brain.

Intermittent fasting is also linked to improved insulin sensitivity, protection against heart disease, better sleep, and reduced inflammation. Possible benefits of keto diets include weight loss, balanced cholesterol levels, and improved cancer outcomes.

The connection between your cholesterol and your brain may not seem obvious, but overall health is important to brain health and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases. 

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most researched dietary plans out there for its many benefits to overall health. The diet is inspired by those who live along the Mediterranean Sea and follow heavily plant- and fish-based diets over more meat-heavy options.

It emphasizes minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish. Poultry, eggs, dairy, and wine are enjoyed in moderation, while red meat and sweets are eaten sparingly.

The diet is a popular option for those at risk of cardiovascular disease, but it’s also been linked to improved brain health. That may be thanks to its effects on oxidative stress and inflammation, two risk factors for cognitive decline.

A diet like this one that is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, especially omega-3s from fatty fish, may also slow cognitive decline as we age.  

The MIND Diet

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet).

The diet emphasizes leafy green vegetables, berries, fish, nuts, whole grains, beans and olive oil. Wine is fine in moderation. Foods to limit include red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, sweets, fast food, and fried foods.

The MIND diet was created specifically for improving brain health and reducing the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Recent findings on its benefits come as the result of 10 years of research from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP).

Researchers from that project followed a group of older adults in the Chicago area for a decade as they reported how closely they followed foods on the MIND diet, including serving sizes. By the end of the study, participants were given a series of cognitive assessments.

Those with a high MIND diet score based on strict adherence to the diet showed a slower rate of decline compared with those who followed the diet more loosely. The population study is one of the strongest pieces of evidence linking healthy diets to brain health and dementia risk.

Foods to Eat for Better Brain Health

There is no single cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Scientists know that genetics, environment, and lifestyle affect your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Your diet is a big piece of that.

If you want to approach Alzheimer’s the natural way and incorporate more foods in your diet to reduce your risk of cognitive decline, start with this list of foods that fight memory loss:

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and bok choy have been identified as the number one food to fight cognitive decline. They’re full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and folate, all important contributors to brain health.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to support healthy brain aging. These vegetables also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds for overall health.

Fatty Fish 

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are linked to improved brain health. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are also a good source of vitamin B12. Low vitamin B12 levels are associated with cognitive impairment.

Green Tea 

Unsweetened green tea is high in compounds called catechins, a type of flavonoid. Catechins are strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, which may offer some protective effects against Alzheimer’s and dementia.


When consumed in moderation, the caffeine in coffee can have short-term effects that boost mood, alertness, and concentration. In the long term, 3-5 cups of coffee daily has been linked to reduced dementia risk in some studies and clinical trials.


Deeply-colored berries are full of flavonoids and anti-inflammatory compounds that support brain health. Blueberries, in particular, have been linked to improved memory and brain function in older people.


Legumes like beans and lentils are an important source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, especially if you follow a plant-based diet. Like leafy greens, they’re also a good source of folate, a key component of cognitive health.

Red Wine

In moderation, a glass of red wine can have protective effects thanks to the flavonoids in wine like resveratrol. Flavonoids are known antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It’s important not to overdo it, as that would have the opposite effect.

Nuts and Seeds

Heart-healthy nuts, especially walnuts, are a good source of protein and healthy fats for brain health. One study showed that an increased nut intake improved verbal recall, verbal memory, and attention in a group of older women.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

The gut-brain connection is well-documented. A diet rich in prebiotics like leeks and asparagus and probiotics like fermented veggies can positively impact your gut microbiome. This can mean benefits on cognitive health, as well.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a healthy fat that can reduce your total cholesterol, a possible risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. Limited studies show it may also improve the blood-brain barrier in those with mild cognitive impairment.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is also linked to neurological benefits as a healthy fat high in polyphenols. Researchers think this may be thanks to the oil’s effects on ketosis and metabolism.


Fish is the best protein source on most Alzheimer’s diets, but lean proteins like chicken can be a good second option to support brain health. It’s most important to limit your servings of red meat like beef and pork.


Much like olive oil, avocados are a great source of healthy fats and brain-healthy antioxidants. Surveys have shown that older adults who ate avocados scored better on given memory and cognition tests.

Dietary Supplements

If you know you’re at a nutritional deficit in any area, vitamins and supplements can help as you embrace healthy eating plans. B vitamins, curcumin, and omega-3 supplementation are all linked to improved brain function. 

Talk to your healthcare provider if you or your caregivers are interested in adding supplements to your diet, especially if you take existing medications.

Avoid These Foods if You’re Concerned About Memory Loss

When it comes to a balanced diet for brain health, knowing what to avoid can be just as important as knowing what to add to your nutrition regimen. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, diets high in refined sugar, trans and saturated fats, and salts are known detriments to neurological health. 

If you’re on the KetoFLEX diet, you’ll also limit your consumption of grains. Grains can bring you out of ketosis, a key element of that diet. Those following a Mediterranean diet can consume whole grains. Limited studies show that whole grains are linked to a reduced risk of dementia. 

Let’s look at the biggest Alzheimer’s and dementia foods to avoid in more detail:

  • Sugar: Cutting back on sugar is one of the best ways to lower your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Eating (or drinking) too much sugar can lead to chronic inflammation, a big risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Saturated and trans fats: Healthy fats are essential to healthy brain cells, but saturated and trans fats can have the opposite effect. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, cheese, and butter. Trans fats are typically found in heavily processed and fried foods. 
  • Salt: High-sodium diets can lead to high blood pressure, a known link with cognitive decline. Too much salt can also cause cardiovascular problems, another risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia.


What is the number one food that fights dementia?

The number one foods that fight dementia are green, leafy vegetables. Studies show that the bioactives and nutrients in vegetables like kale, spinach, collards, and lettuce have the strongest protective effects against cognitive decline.

What dietary changes can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease?

Dietary changes that may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease include incorporating more leafy greens and healthy fats like olive oil and fish into your daily diet. Limiting your consumption of processed foods, sugars, and salt may also help. 

Can Alzheimer’s be reversed with diet?

Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed with diet, but a healthy diet that emphasizes brain function can slow or reverse the earliest effects of dementia. There is no way to completely reverse Alzheimer’s or dementia naturally, although there are holistic plans like the Bredesen protocol that have seen success in reversing some symptoms.

What are the benefits of an Alzheimer’s diet? 

The benefits of an Alzheimer’s diet include improved brain function, slower cognitive decline, and taking control of your brain health. There are many causes behind the onset of the disease, but a balanced diet can improve your chances of healthier brain function as you age. 

Get Our Guide to Bredesen on a Budget

The Bredesen Protocol, developed by Dr. Dale Bredesen, is a comprehensive approach to addressing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Through personalized nutrition and lifestyle interventions, it looks at brain health in a more individualized way to help prevent or even reverse Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Areas of focus include optimizing areas of wellness like your nutrition, immune system, physical activity, and sleep, and reducing inflammatory triggers.

Want to prevent Alzheimer’s using a plan that works without breaking the bank? Get our guide to the Bredesen Protocol on a budget for $29.


  1. Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 11(9), 1007–1014. Abstract:
  2. Lindsay, J., Laurin, D., Verreault, R., Hébert, R., Helliwell, B., Hill, G. B., & McDowell, I. (2002). Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Prospective Analysis From the Canadian Study of Health and Aging. American journal of epidemiology, 156(5), 445-453. Abstract:
  3. Canadian Study of Health and Aging. (1994). The Canadian Study of Health and Aging* Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in Canada. Neurology, 44(11), 2073-2080. Abstract:
  4. Luchsinger, J. A., & Mayeux, R. (2004). Cardiovascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s disease. Current atherosclerosis reports, 6(4), 261-266. Abstract:
  5. Mortimer, J. A., van Duijn, C. M., Chandra, V., Fratiglioni, L., Graves, A. B., Heyman, A., … & Rocca, W. A. (1991). Head trauma as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: a collaborative re-analysis of case-control studies. EURODEM Risk Factors Research Group. International Journal of Epidemiology, 20, S28-35. Abstract:
  6. Stavro, K., Pelletier, J., & Potvin, S. (2013). Widespread and sustained cognitive deficits in alcoholism: a meta-analysis. Addiction biology, 18(2), 203–213. Abstract:
  7. Huang, W. J., Zhang, X., & Chen, W. W. (2016). Association between alcohol and Alzheimer’s disease. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 12(3), 1247–1250. Abstract:
  8. Lim, A. S., Kowgier, M., Yu, L., Buchman, A. S., & Bennett, D. A. (2013). Sleep Fragmentation and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline in Older Persons. Sleep, 36(7), 1027–1032. Abstract:
  9. Morris, M. C., Evans, D. A., Tangney, C. C., Bienias, J. L., & Wilson, R. S. (2006). Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive change. Neurology, 67(8), 1370–1376. Abstract:
  10. Ravaglia, G., Forti, P., Maioli, F., Martelli, M., Servadei, L., Brunetti, N., Porcellini, E., & Licastro, F. (2005). Homocysteine and folate as risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer disease. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 82(3), 636–643. Abstract:
  11. Ellinson, M., Thomas, J., & Patterson, A. (2004). A critical evaluation of the relationship between serum vitamin B, folate and total homocysteine with cognitive impairment in the elderly. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: the Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association, 17(4), 371–387. Abstract:
  12. Kapusta-Duch, J., Kopeć, A., Piatkowska, E., Borczak, B., & Leszczyńska, T. (2012). The beneficial effects of Brassica vegetables on human health. Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, 63(4), 389–395. Full text:
  13. Baroni, L., Sarni, A. R., & Zuliani, C. (2021). Plant Foods Rich in Antioxidants and Human Cognition: A Systematic Review. Antioxidants, 10(5), 714. Full text:
  14. Tuppo, E. E., & Arias, H. R. (2005). The role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 37(2), 289–305. Abstract:
  15. S., Newberry, S. J., Hilton, L. G., Garland, R. H., & Maclean, C. H. (2006). The efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive function in aging and dementia: a systematic review. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 21(2), 88–96. Abstract:
  16. Robinson, J. G., Ijioma, N., & Harris, W. (2010). Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive function in women. Women’s Health (London, England), 6(1), 119–134. Abstract:
  17. Moore, E., Mander, A., Ames, D., Carne, R., Sanders, K., & Watters, D. (2012). Cognitive impairment and vitamin B12: a review. International psychogeriatrics, 24(4), 541–556. Full text:
  18. Chen, X., Huang, Y., & Cheng, H. G. (2012). Lower intake of vegetables and legumes associated with cognitive decline among illiterate elderly Chinese: a 3-year cohort study. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 16(6), 549–552. Abstract:
  19. Luchsinger, J. A., Tang, M. X., Siddiqui, M., Shea, S., & Mayeux, R. (2004). Alcohol intake and risk of dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 52(4), 540–546. Abstract:
  20. Marambaud, P., Zhao, H., & Davies, P. (2005). Resveratrol promotes clearance of Alzheimer’s disease amyloid-beta peptides. The Journal of biological chemistry, 280(45), 37377–37382. Abstract:
  21. Anekonda TS. (2006). Resveratrol–a boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease?  Brain Res. Rev. 52(2), 316-326. Abstract:
  22. O’Brien J, Okereke O, Devore E, Rosner B, Breteler M, Grodstein F. (2014). Long-term intake of nuts in relation to cognitive function in older women. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging 18(5), 496-502. Abstract:
  23. Leblhuber, F., Steiner, K., Schuetz, B., Fuchs, D., & Gostner, J. M. (2018). Probiotic supplementation in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia-an explorative intervention study. Current Alzheimer Research, 15(12), 1106-1113.
  24. Puglielli L, Tanzi RE, Kovacs DM. (2003). Alzheimer’s disease: the cholesterol connection. Nature Neuroscience 6(4), 345-351.
  25. Gu, Y., Nieves, J. W., Stern, Y., Luchsinger, J. A., & Scarmeas, N. (2010). Food combination and Alzheimer disease risk: a protective diet. Archives of Neurology, 67(6), 699–706. Abstract:
  26. Morris, M. C., Evans, D. A., Bienias, J. L., Tangney, C. C., Bennett, D. A., Aggarwal, N., Schneider, J., & Wilson, R. S. (2003). Dietary fats and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Archives of Neurology, 60(2), 194–200. Abstract:
  27. Morris, M. C., & Tangney, C. C. (2014). Dietary fat composition and dementia risk. Neurobiology of Aging, 35(Suppl 2), S59–S64. Abstract:
  28. Kakutani, S., Watanabe, H., & Murayama, N. (2019). Green Tea Intake and Risks for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Cognitive Impairment: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(5), 1165. Abstract:
  29. Song, J., Xu, H., Liu, F., & Feng, L. (2012). Tea and cognitive health in late life: current evidence and future directions. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 16(1), 31–34. Abstract:
  30. Ide, K., Matsuoka, N., Yamada, H., Furushima, D., & Kawakami, K. (2018). Effects of Tea Catechins on Alzheimer’s Disease: Recent Updates and Perspectives. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(9), 2357. Abstract:
  31. Krikorian, R., Shidler, M. D., Nash, T. A., Kalt, W., Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M. R., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Joseph, J. A. (2010). Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(7), 3996–4000. Abstract:
  32. Agarwal, P., Holland, T. M., Wang, Y., Bennett, D. A., & Morris, M. C. (2019). Association of Strawberries and Anthocyanidin Intake with Alzheimer’s Dementia Risk. Nutrients, 11(12), 3060. Abstract:
  33. Liu, L., Volpe, S. L., Ross, J. A., Grimm, J. A., Van Bockstaele, E. J., & Eisen, H. J. (2021). Dietary sugar intake and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older women. Nutritional Neuroscience, 1-12.
  34. Ravikumar, N., Chegukrishnamurthi, M., & Gadde Venkata, S. (2022). Role of Micronutrients in Neurological Development. In Role of Nutrients in Neurological Disorders (pp. 177-199). Springer, Singapore.
  35. Souza, L. A., Trebak, F., Kumar, V., Satou, R., Kehoe, P. G., Yang, W., … & Feng Earley, Y. (2020). Elevated cerebrospinal fluid sodium in hypertensive human subjects with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Physiological Genomics, 52(3), 133-142.
PrimeHealth Newsletter
Get tips & advice right to your inbox, plus stay up to date on PrimeHealth group visits and services.

Share this Post