Something as easy as adding more spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens to your diet could help slow cognitive decline, according to new research from Rush University Medical Center.
The study also examined the nutrients responsible for the effect, linking the consumption of vitamin K and other nutrients to slower cognitive decline for the first time.
“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older,” said Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., assistant provost for community research at Rush University Medical Center and leader of the research team.
“Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
The researchers tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for study participants who consumed greater amounts of green leafy vegetables.
In brief, people who ate one-to-two servings per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.
When the researchers examined individual nutrients linked with slowing cognitive decline, they found that vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene were most likely helping to keep the brain healthy.
“Our study identified some very novel associations,” said Morris, who will present the research at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015. “No other studies have looked at vitamin K in relation to change in cognitive abilities over time, and only a limited number of studies have found some association with lutein.”
Other studies have linked folate and beta-carotene intake with slower cognitive decline.
In addition to green leafy vegetables, other good sources of vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene include brightly colored fruits and vegetables… and of course a good whole food supplement such as Whole Food Multi Complete.