The MIND diet has long been known for its therapeutic properties in promoting brain health and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Scientists say the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet can also enhance cognitive performance and boost focus in young children.

What is MIND diet?

The MIND diet is a special dietary plan that brings together the best of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It's known for supporting brain health and reducing the risk of cognitive decline, especially as we age. To follow the MIND diet, it's recommended to include plenty of brain-boosting foods such as green leafy vegetables, berries, nourishing nuts and omega-3-rich fish, according to Healthline.

A new study, presented at the American Society for Nutrition's annual meeting, suggests that the MIND diet, originally created to prevent cognitive decline in adults, may also help improve focus and attention in young students.

"We assessed how adherence to these diets was associated with children's attentional inhibition — the ability to resist distracting stimuli — and found that only the MIND diet was positively linked with children's performance on a task assessing attentional inhibition," Shelby Keye, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release.

The latest research was conducted based on data originally collected by a previous cross-sectional study led by Naiman Khan, a professor of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The study involved 85 children aged 7 to 11 years. The research team recorded their diets for seven days, and then calculated their HEI-2015 and MIND diet scores. The aim was to explore how diet choices relate to cognitive performance and focus in young students.

During the study, the children performed a task to assess spatial attention and executive control. Their diet scores were calculated based on MIND diet principles. Higher MIND diet scores were linked to better accuracy in the attention-related task. However, researchers stress this connection doesn't necessarily mean the diet directly caused the improvement. To learn more, they aim to study how the MIND diet affects attention in younger kids, including preschoolers and toddlers, to see if age and development play a role.

The study found a positive relationship between higher MIND diet scores and improved accuracy on the attention-related task among participants, suggesting that better adherence to the MIND diet was associated with better task performance.