Loved by a certain famous fictional cartoon character for its muscle-enhancing abilities, spinach can leave a nasty taste in the mouths of some — although this may change with the news it boasts enormous health benefits. Namely, keeping people more mentally alert.
Scientists have discovered eating food rich in vitamin K — such as spinach, kale, asparagus, lettuce and Brussels sprouts — can help people retain their sharp mental ability later in life. A study has now found thinking skills and memory loss declined markedly slower in people who ate the most leafy greens.
Nutrients such as vitamin K and folate are believed to provide protection, although the researchers stress that eating vegetables cannot prove it helps keep the brain healthy over longer periods. A trial on whether switching diet in later life can stave off dementia is being planned.
This Christmas, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to all our amazing supporters. Everything you've done — big or small — makes a real difference to people with dementia. #UnitedAgainstDementia https://t.co/ttCd924AGR pic.twitter.com/0FClFsLPJH— Alzheimer's Society (@alzheimerssoc) December 21, 2017
Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzeheimer's Society, admitted it was no secret eating vegetables is good for your health and appears to slow cognitive decline as people age.
"The researchers did not directly look at dementia, so we cannot say that it would delay or prevent the onset of the condition. However, older people who ate one or two servings of vitamin K rich food per day performed better on memory tests than those who didn't," he told Sputnik.
"In fact, their scores were similar to those of people 11 years younger, irrespective of other factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and education level. What's good for the heart is good for the head," he added.
A healthy diet rich in essential nutrients, combined with regular exercise and avoiding smoking, Dr. Pickett explained, can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia. He urged people to pile high their Christmas dinner plates with greens.
Never Too Late
Martha Clare Morris, of Rush University in Chicago, who led the research study, said people should eat an average of 1.3 servings of greens a day. "Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health," explained Dr Morris, adding it was never too late to start doing so.
Scientists gave annual tests of memory, thinking speed and visual reasoning to 960 people with an average age of 80, who were followed for up to a decade. The fifth who ate the highest amount of leafy greens declined more slowly, with scores equivalent to being 11 years younger, even adjusting for education and winder health, researchers report in the journal Neurology.