Get to Know Your Greens

Nourish


When you were a kid, you were probably told by well-meaning adults that eating your spinach would help you build strong muscles.

Turns out, they were right, but probably not in the way they thought. Spinach does wonders for your most important muscle, your brain.

In fact, all leafy greens, including spinach, kale, collards, and lettuce, are believed to be protective against cognitive decline. Research suggests that people who eat at least one serving a day of these leafy greens have lower rates of cognitive decline than people who eat less than one serving a day.

These greens contain important nutrients including folate, phylloquinone, nitrate, α-tocopherol, kaempferol, and lutein, that are believed to protect the brain against decline. These nutrients are referred to as “neuroprotective.”

So, if you’re a fan of leafy greens, up your intake and make sure you’re getting at least one serving a day. If leafy greens aren’t your favorite, throw a bunch in your food processor and chop them up finely. Throw them in your favorite dish like spaghetti, chili, curry, or ramen, and you’ll hardly notice they are there.

References

  • Kang, J. H., Ascherio, A., & Grodstein, F. (2005). Fruit and vegetable consumption and cognitive decline in aging women. Annals of Neurology, 57(5), 713–720. doi: 10.1002/ana.20476
  • Morris, M. C., Evans, D. A., Tangney, C. C., Bienias, J. L., & Wilson, R. S. (2006). Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive change. Neurology, 67(8), 1370–1376. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000240224.38978.d8
  • Morris, M. C., Wang, Y., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Booth, S. L. (2018). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology, 90(3), e214–e222. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815