You might not need to go completely kale crazy, with kale popcorn and kale smoothies--not that anything’s wrong with that--to get the cognitive benefits from the stuff. Just one daily helping of leafy greens may help ward off dementia, according to new research.
A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston suggests that just one or two servings of leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens every day helps keep our brains functioning as we age. The results were gleaned from evaluating the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years. Participants, age 80 on average at the start of the study, were enrolled in Rush University’s Memory and Aging Project.
Every year participants completed a 144-item food and beverage questionnaire and took 19 mental skill tests. The study found that those subjects who ate their leaves experienced slower mental deterioration than those who didn’t, according to a release about the research on Medicalxpress.com. In fact, subjects who routinely consumed one or two servings of leafy greens every day demonstrated the mental capacity of someone more than a decade younger, compared with those who never ate leafy greens, according to the release.
The vitamin K in the greens may be a key to the veggie’s protective powers, the study’s lead author, nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in the release. The researchers "observed a protective benefit from just one serving per day of green leafy vegetables," which are known to be rich in vitamin K, she added.