Leafy Greens for Better Memory
Although it may sound like reinventing a wheel, greens are beneficial for health. The thing that is new is that they seem to slow down memory decline and make memory sharper. The previously unknown (yet probably suspected) benefit has recently been reported by American scientists.
G for Genius
You probably know that eating vegetables can make you feel lighter, and have more energy and less common health issues, such as flu and constipation. Yet there is one more benefit which had remained largely unknown until a team of American scientists from different medical centers and universities found that eating a helping of leafy greens a day can slow down the processes of losing memory associated with aging.
There were 960 volunteers whose memory was assessed regularly, and eating habits were also analyzed. With the average age of eighty one, all participants had no dementia. The research lasted five years, and the seniors’ cognitive changes were monitored annually by means of special tests. Besides, the researchers asked them to report on their habits and eating patterns. The investigators also divided the participants into 5 groups depending on how often they ate greens. Despite the fact that the seniors were healthy, not all of them were fans of greens, and the amount of greens consumed per day varied from zero to 1.3 servings.
When the scientists compared the results of their analysis for different years, they found a correlation between eating a lot of greens and slower memory decline rate. Those who ate more greens than others (1.3 servings on average) had a decline rate that was about 50% the decline rate seen in the group of seniors who did not eat greens or ate only a small amount of them.
Association is not causation, but still the association revealed is quite strong even if the findings are adjusted for other factors, including overall health, healthy/unhealthy habits, and education.
How do they do it?
One of the seniors reported that she manages to meet the requirement of sufficient greens consumption by eating one big leafy salad a day. In this research, one serving was equal to 1 cup raw greens, or ½ cup cooked greens.
It is worthy of note that while eating cooked greens is better than not eating them at all, you can preserve as many nutrients in them as possible if you eat them raw. The easiest way to do it is to buy a bag of salad mixes.
You may ask us, why the word “leafy” in the headline, if the type of greens these seniors consumed is not specified. The answer is that it’s not the first research which found the association in question. It was in 2006 that it became known that eating leafy veggies and cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) could slow down cognitive decline in aging women.
How do leafy greens help?
It remains unclear what nutrients and other elements found in leafy greens can benefit the brain, but the scientists suppose it is because such vegetables are rich in vitamins E and K, folate (insufficiency of which leads to higher levels of homocysteine, inflammation and clogged arteries, among other issues), beta carotene, and lutein. So the fact that leafy greens are natural food that is packed with nutrients is a good enough reason to add them to your menu.
Besides other benefits, such greens have beautiful color and can make your meals fresher and brighter.
If you cannot think of a way to introduce greens to your dishes, you can try drinking smoothies with greens. This way, you can mix them with other vegetables and fruits to make a healthy drink that does not contain many calories, but provides a lot of energy and nutrients.