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Senior Health - The Greener Your Plate, the Stronger Your Brain

Mar 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

It’s no secret that what we eat plays a large part in our overall health, but we seem to focus more so on our physical fitness or the numbers on the scale than how it affects the less obvious parts of our body.

Nutrition and Brain Health

The brain becomes highly under-appreciated in this aspect. It’s unarguably the most important organ in the body (aside from the heart), as it controls every conscious and subconscious bodily function we do.

This being said, what diet best supports brain health?

Greens Pack a Brain-Boosting Punch

You may have heard of certain diets catering to a healthy brain, such as the Mediterranean diet or the famous MIND diet, but what foods exactly help the most?

These researchers focused on leafy greens, such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.

About 960 seniors without dementia, averaging age 81, underwent a series of assessments yearly for 5 years to help researchers identify their dietary habits, as well as lifestyle choices.

The seniors were placed into 1 of 5 groups, depending on their leafy green intake. The highest group ate approximately 1.3 servings of greens a day, and the lowest group ate little to no greens.

At the end of the study, it was found that the highest green-eating group had a cognitive decline rate that was about 50% slower than those in the lowest group. This is even after adjusting for other lifestyle and dietary factors.

These findings are backed by a 2006 study on women in which it was found that the older participants who ate more vegetables showed less cognitive decline. This was especially apparent in those who ate more greens and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and so forth).

This makes sense, as leafy greens are packed with vitamins E, K, and folate, among others. This combination makes them a super food that helps the body and the brain.

How Can I Eat More Greens?

If you love vegetables, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a lifestyle change for you. One of the participants says she gets her daily greens by having one big salad everyday. You can even buy the prepared mixes to make it easier and faster for you – not to mention, they usually come with yummy toppings and dressings to mix in.

If you’re not a fan of vegetables, there are still ways to sneak greens into your diet:

  • Add spinach or kale to your morning smoothies to make them pretty, tasty, and nutritious!
  • When eating a salad, swap out half of your iceberg lettuce for a leafy green.
  • Cook spinach or kale in with your pasta, rice, or chicken dishes.
  • Make homemade kale chips.

You wouldn’t feed trash to your dog, right? So why feed your brain so poorly? Make an active effort to incorporate more greens into your diet. Your brain (and body) will thank you!

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