A study made by researchers from the Rush University in Chicago and published in the scientific journal Neurology, suggests that eating a serving of leafy greens a day can help preserve memory and cognitive abilities.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard and lettuce are rich in folic acid, a nutrient belonging to the group of vitamin B important for cognitive development.
Through a statement the doctor and leader of the study, Martha Clare Morris, nutritional epidemiologist said that “adding a daily portion of leafy green vegetables to the diet can be a simple way to help promote brain health,” and explained that “Effective strategies are needed to prevent dementia” that is increasing due to the aging of the population and the longer life expectancy that exists mainly in the West.
In work, there were 960 volunteer seniors who completed food questionnaires and received annual cognitive evaluations, in a follow-up that lasted almost five years.
As a result, the researchers found that those who periodically consumed a serving of leafy greens had a slower rate of decline in memory and thinking skills tests than people who rarely or never ingested them.
In addition, older adults with this eating habit showed signs of being cognitively 11 years younger.
The study about the green leafy vegetables connected with brain
The researchers also evaluated the frequency and number of servings they consumed from green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard or lettuce.
For their analysis, they divided the participants into five groups according to the frequency with which they ate leafy greens and compared the cognitive evaluations of those who ate the most (an average of approximately 1.3 servings per day) and those who ate the least (0, 1 servings per day).
In general terms, the scores of the participants in the tests of thought and memory decreased at a normal rate, corresponding to the normal degradation of the abilities associated with age.
However, the rate of cognitive decline for those who ingest vegetables more frequently was slower compared to those who consumed less. A difference in capacity loss equivalent to being 11 years younger, Morris explained.
For the work the scientists also took into account other facotres that affect brain health such as alcohol consumption, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, educational level and the amount of physical and cognitive activities.
“The results of the study do not prove that eating green leafy vegetables slows brain aging, but shows an association,” Morris said, noting that “the study can not rule out other possible reasons for this relationship.”
He explained that as the study focused on older adults, the results may not apply to younger adults and considered that the results should be confirmed from now on by other researchers in different populations and by randomized trials to establish a Cause and effect relationship between the consumption of green leaves and the reduction in the incidence of cognitive deterioration.