LOS ANGELES — A new mission-driven startup founded by Maria Shriver and her son Patrick Schwarzenegger casts a spotlight on cognitive wellness.

Los Angeles-based MOSH (which stands for Maria Owings Shriver Health) is debuting a line of protein bars formulated with adaptogens and nutrients linked to brain health. A percentage of sales supports Alzheimer’s research.

Ms. Shriver, award-winning journalist, author and former First Lady of California, is a force in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which a decade ago claimed the life of her father, American diplomat, politician and activist Sargent Shriver. Following his diagnosis, she penned the children’s book “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” and produced the documentary series “The Alzheimer’s Project.” She published the groundbreaking Shriver Report revealing that Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects women and subsequently launched the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, a non-profit organization advancing gender-based brain health research.

“We’ve learned so much in my two decades of advocacy about what actually impacts our brain health,” Ms. Shriver told Food Business News. “When I got involved with Alzheimer’s, people were only looking in one space; they were looking at plaques and tangles, and they were researching men. Now we know so much of what we do on a day-to-day basis starting in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, particularly with women who are perimenopausal and menopausal, how you sleep, how you exercise and what you eat have a big impact on your brain functioning at its best.”

Ms. Shriver and Mr. Schwarzenegger partnered with brain health experts and nutritionists to develop the protein bars, which are available in peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter chocolate flavors. Ashwagandha, lion’s mane mushroom, collagen, medium-chain triglyceride oil, vitamins B12 and D3 and omega-3 fatty acids are among the brain-boosting ingredients included in the recipes.

Nutrition plays a role in delaying or preventing cognitive decline. Recent research suggests the ketogenic diet may help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, Ms. Shriver noted. She also cited research examining the effects of sugar on brain health.

“That’s why this bar is formulated with zero added sugar,” she said.

Ms. Shriver, who often relies on protein bars to fuel her busy lifestyle, said the company plans to launch “a whole slew of products” in the future.

“We want to be the Nike of brain health,” Mr. Schwarzenegger added. “We want to get consumers shopping in different categories that are good for brain and body, whether that is protein bars, whether that is hydration, whether that is different protein powders or supplements.”

Variety of MOSH protein barsHe said the protein bars were in development for a year and a half. The team tested various iterations with scores of consumers. Supply chain disruptions and pandemic restrictions further delayed the launch.

The bars, featuring packaging design inspired by a brain scan, are sold at moshlife.com. Proceeds from each purchase are donated to Women’s Alzheimer Movement.

“We’re purposefully starting scrappy and small,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “We really want to learn from customers about what they are interested in, what they are loving or not loving, what different tweaks we want to do.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a television and film actor, advises and invests in health and wellness brands, including Malk Organics, Verb Energy, Kitu Life and Poppi. He noted rising consumer interest in cognitive function and an emerging trend in food and beverage products marketing brain benefits.

Ms. Shriver hopes the brand will empower more consumers to adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle, or what the founders called a “mindstyle.”

“I have a big vision for MOSH to shift not just what you eat but how you think,” she said.