Overall, researchers found that eating more leafy, green vegetables was associated with a slower decline in memory and thinking skills.
Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, and her colleagues looked at 960 people ages 58 to 99 years old over an average of 4.7 years.
Their study showed that thinking skills, including memory, declined markedly slower in people who ate the most leafy greens, potentially protecting them against dementia. The rates for the highest versus the lowest quintiles of intake in adjusted models were β = 0.02 for phylloquinone, β = 0.04 for lutein, β = 0.05 for folate, β = 0.02 for α-tocopherol, β = 0.04 for nitrate, β = 0.04 for kaempferol, and β = 0.02 for β-carotene, with the latter rate being nonsignificant.
Over a 10-year period the rate of decline for those who ate the most leafy greens was slower by 0.05 standardised units per year than the rate for those who ate the least leafy greens.
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The participants of the study completed food frequency questionnaires, which enquired about how often they ate certain foods in the past years.
We asked 2 leading dementia charities for their thoughts on the study.
Medical experts suggest eating green vegetables and fruits on regular basis.
"It is hard to drill down to investigate whether a specific food or nutrient could hold particular benefits for memory and thinking skills, and this research doesn't show that leafy, green vegetables promote brain health any more than other vegetables". Future studies will need to explore how leafy, green vegetables might contribute to brain function or if there is any link to whether people develop dementia. Individuals eating one or two daily servings of vegetables like spinach, lettuce or kale, witnessed much slower cognitive decline.