Recent research has found that eating a generous portion of leafy green vegetables every day during your lifetime could assist with prevention of dementia developing in later life.

Dementia is the term used for a group of symptoms which affect memory, language, problem-solving and perception. Dementia is not a disease, rather, the symptoms that cause it, are. The diseases which cause dementia are associated with and damage the brain, these include Alzheimer’s and strokes, amongst others.

Individuals will experience dementia differently and it depends entirely on the damage experienced, what caused the damage and what part of the brain the damage effects. There is no cure for dementia and many of the diseases which cause it are terminal. The symptoms include day-to-day memory loss, inability to problem-solve, disorientation, difficulty performing familiar tasks and mood swings.

The study, led by Dr Martha Morris of Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago and published by Neurology, found that the nutrients in green leafy vegetables can contribute to slowing cognitive decline, with brains demonstrating activity levels which were up to 11 years younger than those who did not consume the vegetables.

Those who ate at least one serving of green leaves a day, which is considered to be around 100g of cooked greens, such as spinach, kale or cabbage and around 200g of green leafy salads, had brains that were functioning at a much higher level.    

The research evaluated 960 adults who were between the ages of 58 and 99, with the average age of 81. The participants were assessed for a total of 4.7 years. Each year, tests were conducted, which assessed the individual’s memory and thinking skills. The outcome of the research revealed that participants with the highest functioning brains and a slower decline in performance were eating a much higher average and proportion of green, leafy vegetables when compared to those who ate much less.

Dr Morris highlighted when the findings were published, that although the research showed a clear correlation between eating green leafy vegetables and better brain function, it did not prove that it was the food that was the main reason for the prevention of the decline.

With the rise in UK life expectancy, a huge proportion of the population are now over 65. The Alzheimer’s Society predicts that there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK alone, a figure which is set to increase to two million by 2050. If elderly nutrition that is balanced and nourishing can reduce that by even a small percentage, it is more than worth putting an extra portion of vegetables on your plate. Incorporating leafy green vegetables, amongst other nutritious foods to form a healthy and balanced diet, provides your body with the nutrients you need for growth and repair, it is not only proven to contribute to brain health but can also prevent diet-related illnesses.

Will you be adding an extra handful of green vegetables to your diet know? Let us know via our social media channels; we would love to hear from you!