Ageing is inevitable, but a US study might have uncovered the key to warding off dementia, one of the common and more serious downsides of getting older.
A new study conducted by Rush University Medical Centre and published in Neurology has found that eating one serve of leafy green vegetables a day could play a vital role in preserving memory and thinking skills as a person ages.
Author Martha Clare Morris said, “Adding a daily serving of green leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to help promote brain health”.
“There continue to be sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number. Effective strategies to prevent dementia are critically needed,” she continued.
According to the study results, those who ate the most leafy green veggies showed a significantly slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than those who ate fewer greens. Those who ate at least one serving of leafy greens a day slowed brain ageing by 11 years.
Almost 1,000 American adults in their 80s participated in the study, documenting what they ate and undergoing cognitive assessments over a 10-year period.
The study divided the participants into five groups based on how often they consumed leafy greens, and compared the cognitive assessments of those who ate the most and those who ate the least.
With the number of people with dementia rising, Morris said the results of the study are important. According to Dementia Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death and there are more than 413,106 Australians living with dementia.
“The study results do not prove that eating green, leafy vegetables slows brain ageing, but it does show an association,” Morris said. “The study cannot rule out other possible reasons for the link.”
However, eating more green veggies is not necessarily a bad thing, regardless. Leafy veggies have a lot of nutrients and tend to be low in saturated fat, salt and sugar.
Previous studies have already suggested that diets rich in vegetables are associated with lowers risks of range of health problems including weight gain, heart disease, and cancer.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a serve (75g) of leafy green daily, which works out to either half a cup if they’re cooked, or a cup if they’re uncooked.