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Green Leafy Vegetables May Help Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline is natural as we age, but there may be ways to slow it. A recent study suggests that consuming green leafy vegetables may help protect against cognitive decline.


Participants in the study included 960 people who took part in the Memory and Aging Project. All of the participants were an average age of 81, 95% were white, and 74% were women. They completed a baseline food frequency questionnaire, which asked about their consumption of cooked spinach, cooked kale/collards/greens, and raw lettuce salad. All of the participants were followed for 10 years and evaluated annually with 19 cognitive tests.


In general, the cognitive scores of all of the participants declined over time. But after adjusting for education, cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking, alcohol consumption, and seafood consumption, consumption of green leafy vegetables was positively and significantly associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. Participants who consumed a median of 1.3 servings of green leafy vegetables per day had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who rarely or never consumed green leafy vegetables. The difference was equivalent to being approximately 11 years younger in age.


The researchers believe that these positive effects are due to the higher levels of folate, phylloquinone, and lutein in green leafy vegetables.


Researchers from Rush University and Tufts University conducted the study. It was published on January 16, 2018, in Neurology.


This study found that only 1.3 servings of green leafy vegetables per day had an effect. That small of an amount can easily be added to your diet by simply having a small side salad with dinner or lunch.

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