Research found that a daily serving of a specific type of foods was associated with slow age-related cognitive decline, attributed to the “neuro-protective effects” of the nutrients. Such findings were established in the journal Neurology, where one serving of green, leafy vegetables were lead to slower cognitive decline. Dr Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues from Rush University in Chicago followed 960 older adults enrolled in the Rush Memory and Ageing Project.
The focus was on the level of consumption of green, leafy vegetables, such as: spinach, kale, collards, and lettuce.
Performance on cognitive testing was also analysed on the participants, who averaged around 81 years of age.
All participants were dementia free at the beginning of the study. They underwent cognitive testing each year for five years.
Cognitive testing included assessment on episodic memory, working memory, semantic memory, visuospatial ability, and perceptual speed.
Data from food frequency questionnaires administered at the beginning of the study were used to assess how frequently people ate some 144 items over the previous 12 months.
Additional data on diet, health, and demographics were also collected annually.
In the study, the consumption of leafy, green vegetables was positively and significantly associated with slower cognitive decline.
Interestingly, those who ate the most leafy green vegetables daily compared to those who ate the least benefited from 11 years of younger cognition.
The highest daily serving of leafy, green vegetables was 1.3, whereas the lowest daily consumption was 0.09.
There was also no evidence that the association was affected by cardiovascular conditions, depressive symptom, low weight, or obesity.
Green, leafy vegetables are a rich source of folate, phylloquinone, nitrate, α-tocopherol, kaempferol, and lutein.
These nutrients are thought to be the reason for the reduction in cognitive decline.
The Alzheimer’s Society elaborated by stating that most people will take a little longer to remember things from middle age.
These changes in memory, increased distractibility, and a reduced ability to multi-task are considered “normal”.
“For a doctor to diagnose dementia, a person’s symptoms must have become bad enough to significantly affect their daily life,” the charity elaborated.
This can include problems paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, driving safely or meeting up with friends.