Does a Salad a Day Take 11 Years of Brain Age Away?

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Does a Salad a Day Keep the Brain Age Away?

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Healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, walnuts, or antioxidant rich blueberries, green tea, even dark chocolate -- the list of foods thought to boost brain health is extensive (and delicious). But new research says the secret to preventing cognitive decline is a lot simpler and cheaper. The latest research points to leafy green vegetables as the real brain food. Yes, your mom was right after all. 

A five-year study conducted by the Memory and Aging Project and published this week in the journal Neurology looked at the brain health of nearly 1,000 participants. The subjects were assessed for brain function twice during the five-year period and were also questioned about their dietary habits.

When controlled for other genetic, diet, and lifestyle factors, the subjects who regularly consumed leafy green vegetables showed slower rates of cognitive decline than the subjects who did not eat the vegetables as frequently.

The difference was significant: those who ate even just one serving of leafy greens per day (like a half cup of cooked spinach) showed significantly less decline than those who didn’t. Regular consumption of leafy greens was linked to brain "ages" eleven years younger than the group who didn't eat at least one serving per day.

Credit may go to the vitamin and nutrient profile in greens -- B vitamins, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins E and K.

“Some of the nutrients already have excellent scientific evidence, such as vitamin E, a potent antioxidant which has been demonstrated in carefully controlled animal models to protect against neuron loss, oxidative stress and inflammation, and the accumulation of amyloid plaques. Other of the nutrients are newly identified,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Martha Morris.

The research points to the benefits of a well-rounded diet with a focus on plant-based foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetable.

“Daily consumption of leafy greens may be a simple and effective way to protect against loss in memory and other cognitive abilities,” said Dr. Morris.

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