Study Shows How Eating Leafy Greens Slows Brain Aging and Improves Cognitive Function
By Anna Hunt
More scientific research has surfaced that shows why you should eat your greens. A study out of Rush University Medical Center claims that eating green leafy vegetables on a daily basis could keep your mind years, even decades younger as the brain ages.
Can We Slow Down the Dwindling Agility of the Aging Brain?
There is no denying that people who age will undergo some level of cognitive change. Research has shown that aging affects several basic cognitive functions, most commonly attention and memory. Often, perceptual function also decreases in most older adults. As a result, individuals in their 80s will likely be less adept than a 30 year old.
But what if I told you that if you eat your greens, you can keep your brain a decade younger?!
That is precisely the claim presented by Dr. Martha Clare Morris of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. With a team of researchers, Morris recently conducted a study to assess the effects of leafy greens on brain agility. She concluded that:
Consumption of approximately 1 serving per day of green leafy vegetables and foods rich in phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, α-tocopherol, and kaempferol may help to slow cognitive decline with aging.
Eat Your Greens DAILY to Reduce Cognitive Decline
For her study, Morris and her team recruited 960 participants, ages 58-99. None showed any signs of dementia. Over an average of 4.7 years, Morris tracked the subjects’ diets and conducted cognitive tests.
One of the measurements that Morris tracked included what amount of leafy greens the participants consumed. The study categorized leafy greens into three groups: spinach; collards/kale/greens; and lettuce. Furthermore, the study split the participants into five groups based on the quantity of greens consumed.
In addition, the researchers accounted for many other factors that affect cognitive decline. These include sex, age, participation in cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking, and seafood and alcohol consumption.
In the end, the study showed that all groups showed some level of cognitive decline. Yet, interestingly, the group that consumed the highest quantity of leafy greens showed a much slower rate of decline. The study stated:
In a linear mixed model adjusted for age, sex, education, participation in cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking, and seafood and alcohol consumption, consumption of green leafy vegetables was associated with slower cognitive decline; the decline rate for those in the highest quintile of intake (median 1.3 servings/d) was slower by β = 0.05 standardized units (p = 0.0001) or the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age.
In conclusion, the study presented a comparison between the group with the highest intake of greens (or 1-2 portions per day) and the group with the lowest intake of greens (or just 0.1 portions per day). The group with the highest intake had a brain that functioned 11 years younger.
This study presents yet another simple way that you can protect your brain from aging. Moreover, may this article serve as motivation to eat your greens. If you have any favorite ways to prepare or cook leafy greens, please share them in the comments. And if you’re looking for ideas, check out these resources:
The Leafy Greens Cookbook by Kathryn Anible
The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook by Susan Sampson
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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