As we age, cognitive decline can’t be prevented. There is no particular brain food that can maintain the sharpness of our brain.
A study involving 960 older adults (ages 58 to 99) showed that participants who regularly ate about 1.3 servings of leafy greens a day showed cognitive abilities of people 11 years younger.
Researchers conclude that eating one serving (1/2 cup cooked or one cup raw) of green leafy vegetables a day may significantly reduce memory loss and better preserve cognitive function. In this study, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed the participants’ food-consumption habits for about five years and tested their cognitive abilities periodically throughout the study (1). This was probably due to the folate, beta-carotene, and vitamin K that leafy greens contain (2).
Moreover, another study found that adding more spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens to our diet could help slow cognitive decline. According to researchers, vitamin K is one of the nutrients responsible for this effect (3).
Results of a review published in 2014 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that the Mediterranean diet—also high in leafy greens—was associated with a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise, another study published in Neurology demonstrated that those who ate a Mediterranean-like diet had significantly less brain atrophy (as measured by brain volume in imaging studies) as they aged (4).
Leafy Green Superstars
Here is the list of leafy greens that contain a truly impressive spectrum of nutrients:
Spinach is rich in folate, vitamins A and C, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.
Swiss chard has a beet-like taste and a soft texture. It contains healthy amounts of vitamins A and C and is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin for good eye health.
Kale helps strengthen bones and teeth as it’s high in calcium and vitamin K. It is also loaded with vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and fiber.
Broccoli – provides vitamins A, C, and E along with antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. It also has potassium, folate, fiber, protein, and iron as well as cancer-fighting sulforaphane.
Brussels sprouts are particularly high in glucosinolates, which help fight cancer.
How to add more leafy greens to our diet (5):
- Smoothies: Frozen green leafy veggies like kale or spinach can be added to our green smoothie together with fruits like bananas and apples.
- Egg scrambles: Our favorite leafy green vegetables can be added to omelets or egg scrambles.
- Sandwiches or wraps: We can bulk up our sandwich by piling on leafy greens like spinach or romaine lettuce or using them in the place of bread in sandwiches or wraps to reduce starchy or processed carbs.
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