Eating Leafy Greens Daily, Makes Your Memory sharp

To age well, we should eat well. There has been a lot of proof that heart-healthy diets facilitate protect the brain.

The latest good news: A study recently published in Neurology finds that healthy seniors who had daily helpings of leafy green vegetables — like spinach, kale, and kail — had a slower rate of cognitive decline, compared to people who tended to eat very little or no greens.

"The association is quite strong," says study author Martha Clare Morris, a prof of nutrition science at Rush Medical College in Chicago. She also directs the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging.

The research included 960 participants of the Memory and Aging Project. Their average age is eighty-one, and none of them have dementia. every year the participants undergo A battery of tests to assess their memory. Scientists also keep track of their feeding habits and lifestyle habits.

To analyze the link between leafy greens and age-related cognitive changes, the researchers assigned every participant to at least one of 5 teams, in line with the number of greens eaten. people who tended to eat the most greens comprised the top quintile, consuming, on average, about 1.3 servings per day. Those in the bottom quintile said they consume very little or no greens.

After about 5 years of follow-up/observation, "the rate of decline for [those] in the high quintile was about half the decline rate of those in the lowest quintile," Morris says.

So, what is the most convenient way to get these greens into your diet?

"My goal daily is to possess a big dish," says Candace Bishop, one amongst the study participants. "I get those bags of dark, leafy salad mixes."

A serving size is defined as a half-cup of cooked greens, or a cup of raw greens.

Does Bishop still feel sharp? "I'm still pretty damn bright," she tells me with a giggle. She is not convinced that her daily salad explains her healthy aging.

"I assume a lot of it's in the genes," Bishop says, adding, "I assume I am lucky, frankly."

She has alternative healthy habits, too. Bishop attends group exercise classes in her retirement community and she's active on many committees in the community.

Many factors play into healthy aging — this study doesn't prove that feeding greens will fend off memory decline. With this type of research, Morris explains, scientists can only establish an association — not necessarily causation — between a healthy diet and a mind that stays sharp.

Still, she says, even after adjusting for alternative factors which may play a role, like a lifestyle, education and overall health, "we saw this association [between greens and a slower rate of cognitive decline] over and higher than accounting for all those factors."

Some previous research has pointed to the same benefit. A study by {women|of girls|of ladies} published in 2006 also found that high consumption of vegetables was related to less cognitive decline among older women. The association was strongest with greater consumption of leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli and cauliflower.

And, as NPR has reported, there is proof that a Mediterranean-style diet — that emphasizes a pattern of eating that's rich in fish, nuts, vegetables and whole grains — could facilitate stave off chronic diseases.

What may explain a benefit from greens?

Turns out, these vegetables contain a range of nutrients and bioactive compounds including vitamin e and K, lutein, beta-carotene, and folate.

"They have totally different roles and different biological mechanisms to protect the brain," says Morris. more research is required, she says, to fully understand their influence, however, scientists know that consuming too little of those nutrients will be problematic.

For instance, "if you have got insufficient levels of folate in your diet you'll have higher levels of homocysteine," Morris says. this may set the stage for inflammation and a buildup of plaque, or fatty deposits, inside your arteries, that will increase the chance of stroke. research shows elevated homocysteine is related to cognitive impairment among older adults.

Another example: getting lots of vitamin e from foods in your diet will facilitate protect cells from damage and additionally has been related to higher cognitive performance.

"So, after you eat leafy greens, you are eating plenty of various nutrients, and together they will have a strong impact," Morris says.


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