The best diet for your brain

You've heard of "brain foods," right? Well, today I'm going to give you an entire "brain diet" -- a long and growing list of foods that can protect your noggin, prevent dementia and slash your risk of stroke at the same time.

And if you thought it was impossible for a diet to be both healthy and delicious at the same time, I've got news for you: This one's so tasty you'll hesitate to use the word "diet."

Let's go with "lifestyle." That sounds better, doesn't it?

The lifestyle you want is a Mediterranean one -- a lifestyle rich in many of the foods you already know and love. And if you manage to stick to this list of brain foods, even moderately, you can slash your risk of both cognitive impairment and depression, according to the new review of 22 studies.

But with a lifestyle this good, why stop at moderately?

Stick to it closely (it's not hard), and you'll get even bigger benefits -- and along with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and depression, you could avoid both stroke and Parkinson's disease, according to the study in the Annals of Neurology.

These are conditions that hit tens of millions of Americans -- conditions so common that someone you love is almost certainly suffering from one or more of them right now.

But they're conditions you don't have to face yourself if you make these basic changes to your lifestyle.

The secret to the diet's brain protection isn't much of a secret. It's rich in the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish -- essential fats proven to lift your mood, protect your memory and ward off diseases of brain and body alike.

The brain foods included in the Mediterranean lifestyle are also loaded with the polyphenols that can fight oxidative stress throughout the body, including in the brain -- polyphenols you'll find in fruits, vegetables and chocolate.

(Yes, you read that right -- go Mediterranean, and you're actually allowed to eat chocolate. Here's why.)

All of these nutrients aren't just good for your brain. They're also essential to the heart -- which is why a clinical trial I told you about earlier this year found the Mediterranean lifestyle can cut your stroke risk nearly in half and reduce your risk of all major cardiovascular events by nearly a third.

You can read more about that groundbreaking study here.