As the baby boomer generation begins to enter their senior years, numerous studies have been looking for ways to help this massive population stave off the mental effects of aging. There is mounting evidence that eating a healthy diet can help to preserve the functioning of the brain, including a recent study that suggests that eating one to two servings of spinach and other leafy greens per day may help mitigate the effects of aging on the brain.
In this study, researchers from Rush University in Chicago collected data on the diets and mental acuity of 950 seniors over the course of five years. The researchers found that the cognitive abilities of the seniors who ate one to two servings per day of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, experienced significantly slower rates of cognitive decline than those who did not. The leafy green eaters were discovered to have the same average cognitive abilities as people 11 years younger than them. These results remained the same even after controlling for the participants' educational level, family history of dementia and frequency of exercise.
The researchers believe that this effect is due to the vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene found in leafy greens, all of which are known for promoting brain health.
"With baby boomers approaching old age, there is huge public demand for lifestyle behaviors that can ward off loss of memory and other cognitive abilities with age. Our study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning," said lead author Martha Clare Morris.