By Melissa Healy
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study reveals older people who ate at least one serving of leafy greens a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills.
Los Angeles Times
Look into your salad bowl and think: If a fountain of cognitive youth were flowing in there, would you return every day?
In research that gives new meaning to the expression “salad days,” a study published Wednesday finds that older people who ate at least one serving of leafy greens a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than did people who rarely or never ate these vegetables.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.
After almost five years, regular consumers of such veggies as kale, spinach, collard greens and lettuce enjoyed a mental edge that was the equivalent of 11 years in age.
To be sure, the top tier of leafy-vegetable consumers started with cognitive scores that were slightly higher than those in the bottom tier. That’s probably a testament to the power of lifelong eating patterns.
But over five years, the pattern of mental aging differed markedly in these two groups. Study participants who ate an average of roughly 1.3 servings of leafy greens a day experienced a decline in test performance that was about half as steep as that of participants whose daily consumption was near-zero.
Those stark differences were evident even after the researchers took account of a host of factors that are known to affect mental aging, including age, gender, education, exercise, participation in cognitive activities, smoking and consumption of seafood and alcohol.
Let’s say you and your neighbor are both 75 and similar in most every way: You both completed the same amount of school, take regular walks together, don’t smoke, and gather with friends over an occasional beer.