Want to live longer? The key could be eating more leafy green vegetables

Jun 21, 2020
Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, kale and parsley. Source: Getty.

A new study has found eating more leafy green vegetables might help you live longer. The study conducted by researchers from Tufts University in the US and is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found older adults with lower vitamin K levels were more likely to die within 13 years compared to those with adequate levels.

The results suggest vitamin K may have protective health benefits as we age. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, kale and parsley, and in some vegetable oils, like soybean and canola. The nutrient is also found in vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and fish, liver, meat, eggs and some cereals.

For the study, the researchers categorised participants according to their vitamin K blood levels. They then compared risk of heart disease and the risk of death over approximately 13 years of follow-up. Nearly 4,000 participants were involved in the study, and all were over the age of 50.

Although the results showed no significant associations between vitamin K levels and heart disease, the participants with the lowest vitamin K levels had a 19 per cent higher risk of death, compared to those that reflected adequate vitamin K intake.

“The possibility that vitamin K is linked to heart disease and mortality is based on our knowledge about proteins in vascular tissue that require vitamin K to function,” lead author Kyla Shea said. “These proteins help prevent calcium from building up in artery walls, and without enough vitamin K, they are less functional”

While this study adds to existing evidence that vitamin K may have protective health benefits, it can’t prove cause and effect between vitamin K and longevity.

“Similar to when a rubber band dries out and loses its elasticity, when veins and arteries are calcified, blood pumps less efficiently, causing a variety of complications,” researcher Daniel Weiner said. “That is why measuring the risk of death, in a study such as this, may better capture the spectrum of events associated with worsening vascular health.”

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a serve (75 grams) of leafy greens daily, which works out to be either half a cup if they’re cooked, or a cup if they’re uncooked.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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What are your thoughts on this study? Do you eat leafy green vegetables often?

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