These leafy green vegetables can keep your brain sharp for decades

Science and Health

Eating leafy green vegetables can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a study recently published in the leading journal Neurology of the American Neurological Association has shown.

The study examined how eating green leafy vegetables benefits our health, and the researchers found a  connection between eating green leafy vegetables and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

Among the vegetables that were found to have this benefit were lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, green onion, chives, mustard leaves, arugula, rocket, watercress, chard, celery, artichoke, parsley, cilantro, dill, herbs and more.

Data compiled from the 581 study participants, whose average age at the beginning of the study was 84, proved that adhering to a healthy diet may help maintain brain function and slow the cognitive decline that comes with age.

What happened after participants followed the diet?

After following the participants’ dietary patterns for about seven years, and finding a connection to various Alzheimer’s biomarkers in the brain tissue itself after death, researchers found that healthier dietary patterns like the MIND diet – a food plan that’s been adapted to prevent degenerative processes in the nervous system and emphasizes eating green leafy vegetables – were associated with lower overall Alzheimer’s pathology. These findings persisted even after controlling for additional confounding variables.

Assorted vegetables (credit: PXFUEL)

Other food plans that showed similar results included the Mediterranean diet, which is based on eating all kinds of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and more, and eating very little fast and fried food.

The study also showed that there was less overall pathology of Alzheimer’s disease among subjects who were in the highest third of green leafy vegetable consumption compared to those in the lowest third.

It was also found that those who followed the MIND plan had fewer protein layers in the brain, similar to having a younger brain by about four years.

Merav Mor-Opir, M.Sc clinical nutritionist and a scientific advisor to the Israel Plant Council, noted that the new study emphasizes the great potential of a healthy diet that includes fresh foods like vegetables, especially green leafy ones, and fruits. Both are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain brain function and ensure public health. So, she recommends eating vegetables and fruits from five color groups: red, orange, green, white and purple and to put green leafy vegetables on your daily menu.