If your parents continually told you to eat your vegetables as a child, they had a lot of good reasons to do so. Leafy greens, in particular, provide many different health benefits – including boosting brain health. Recent research shows leafy greens may help play a role in keeping your mind sharp as you get older.
Here’s some information on what cognitive decline is, what the research says about how leafy greens can help you stay healthy, and some of the leafy greens you’ll want to consider adding to your shopping list.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Cognitive decline is usually associated with age-related illnesses. However, it can occur after an injury to the brain, as a result of a sudden health issue, or for other reasons. And while it will usually affect older people, cognitive decline can happen to anyone regardless of their age.
Signs of cognition issues include having problems completing everyday tasks, mood or behavior changes, repeating yourself or asking the same questions over and over, and difficulty with judgment.1
How Leafy Greens Can Help Keep Your Brain Healthy
A recent study showed eating as little as one serving of leafy greens each day could help keep you mentally sharp as you age. Researchers studied nearly 1,000 older people who participated in an aging survey, analyzing the way those who ate leafy green vegetables like collard greens, kale, and spinach, performed on cognition tests.
These tests were administered about once every five years, with participants taking tests assessing their cognitive levels in several different areas, including memory and speed of perception.
According to the results, the participants who ate leafy green vegetables had far superior cognitive skills to those who didn’t. The researchers found that a daily serving of leafy greens could contribute to substantially improved brain health as you get older.2
Leafy Greens You Should Consider
Let’s take a closer look at some leafy greens that have been shown to deliver some considerable health benefits. These vegetables are packed with nutrition, and most of them are easy to find at your neighborhood grocery store.
Spinach is one of the more popular vegetables and it’s also one of the most nutritious. One cup of spinach will provide you with a big, healthy dose of vitamin K. It’s also a good source of vitamin A.3 Spinach also contains a large amount of folate, which is important in the development of red blood cells.4
You’re no doubt familiar with beets. The leaves of the plant are not only edible, but they’re also packed with nutrition. One cup of beet greens will give you twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. They are also high in potassium and fiber.5
And beet greens contain lutein: an antioxidant that could help support healthy vision.6
If you’re concerned with nutrition, collard greens should definitely be part of your dietary regimen. They’re packed with even more vitamin K than kale. In fact, just one cup could provide you with more than 10 times the recommended daily amount. Collard greens also deliver substantial amounts of vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C.7
Now, you might not be as familiar with vitamin K when compared to some of the other vitamins. But vitamin K is essential to the proper clotting of blood.8 There is also evidence the vitamin may help keep your bones healthy and strong. According to one study, a lack of vitamin K may increase the risk of suffering a hip fracture.9
A favorite among many, cabbage is one of the more versatile vegetables. Not only is it the main ingredient in coleslaw, when you ferment cabbage it becomes sauerkraut. And sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics (microbes that are beneficial to your gastrointestinal tract).
Furthermore, probiotics have been associated with several health benefits. Research indicates they help with digestion, keep your immune system strong, and help promote weight loss.10-12
Kale contains a ton of minerals and vitamins. Just one cup of the vegetable will give you nearly seven times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. It also gives you more than twice the vitamin A you need each day. Kale is also a great source of vitamin C.13
Broccoli is another vegetable that can really boost your health. Just one cup will meet your daily requirements of vitamins A and K. It’s also an excellent source of calcium, folate, and fiber.14 Broccoli also contains sulforaphane. This is a plant compound that could help support heart health.15
Arugula is also packed with vitamins, including A, K, and folate.16 It is also high in nitrates – compounds that may help relax blood vessels. This supports healthy blood flow and blood pressure.17
This type of lettuce is great in a Caesar salad, and it’s also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin K. Romaine lettuce is also low in calories, making it a good choice if you’re looking to stay slim and trim.18
The Bottom Line
Getting the right amount of nutrition from the food you eat is critical to helping you maintain your overall health. And solid scientific research shows leafy greens can help provide you the nutrition you need and help support brain function as you get older.
So, make sure your meals include leafy veggies. Your body and brain will thank you.
Polyphenols Are The Little-Known Secret to Youth
8 Easy Cardio Workouts You Can Do At Home
Cognitive Function 101: What It Is and How To Strengthen It