Should you follow your heart or your head? When it comes to what you put on your plate, the answer is to follow the Mediterranean diet and both your heart and your head will thank you. In the spirit of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June, the James Family Heart Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) wants you to know the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is linked to better memory. Just remember: What’s good for your heart is good for your head. 

Mediterranean Diet Basics 

The Mediterranean diet refers to a diet rich in plant foods and low in animal products. Here is a quick overview of the basics: 

  • Eat mostly vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, fish, seafood and potatoes. 
  • Limit your consumption of eggs, dairy products and poultry. 
  • Significantly reduce red meat consumption. 
  • Cook using extra virgin olive oil, spices and herbs. 
  • Eliminate highly processed foods, refined oils and grains and added sugars. 

As a general rule, if your food comes from the garden or the sea, you are on the right track. It is best to avoid packaged foods, as they are often processed. Before purchasing a packaged food, educate yourself by carefully reading the package label so you know its exact contents. 

Heart and Brain Healthy 

Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association recommend the Mediterranean diet and variations of it for many reasons. In addition to assisting with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, following a plant-based diet may help reduce your risk for dementia. While research continues, some studies have shown improved attention, better memory and less cognitive decline.  

Your Healthy Kitchen 

YRMC’s online cooking show, Your Healthy Kitchen (, is an excellent source for delicious Mediterranean-style recipes. Check out our blog at and follow us on Facebook at YRMCyourhealthykitchen. 

For more information about the James Family Heart Center at YRMC, visit