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Is There a Connection Between Leafy Greens & Brain Health?

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Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recently concluded a study evaluating the correlation between leafy green vegetables and cognitive health. The results of the study were published in the journal Neurology. The researchers learned that older adults who regularly consumed collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and spinach demonstrated better cognitive function compared to those who ate the vegetables less frequently. 

The Medical Center Study

The study involved more than 950 seniors with an average age of 81 and evaluated their diets over a time span of between 2 to 10 years. The volunteers documented their beverage and food intake daily. They were then divided into two groups. One group ate one or two servings of leafy green vegetables daily as opposed to the other volunteers who did not eat the vegetables as regularly. The scientists then determined the nutrient quantities each participant consumed daily. 

Each year, all subjects also underwent comprehensive testing that took into consideration gender, education level, smoking, level of physical activity, and genetic risk of Alzheimer’s. The group eating greens daily scored 50 percent higher than the other group. The researchers learned that the adults who included daily servings of green leafy vegetables in their diets demonstrated the cognitive ability of individuals more than a decade younger than their actual age. 

Switching to nutritious meals is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices for older adults. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining healthy habits, consider hiring a professional elderly caregiver. Fort Myers families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide dedicated and compassionate in-home caregivers who are trained in our holistic Balanced Care Method, which was designed to encourage seniors to exercise often, eat nutritious foods, maintain strong social ties, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Diet Matters

While researchers have long known that eating the right foods ensured overall health, they now believe following a proper diet can specifically protect cognitive health. The study also provided insight as to why the Mediterranean diet enabled older adults to enjoy physical and mental longevity. Green leafy vegetables are rich sources of beta-carotene, folic acid, lutein, and vitamin E and K1, which play a role in protecting delicate brain tissue from inflammation and cellular damage. 

Beta-carotene and folate have been known to prevent an abundance of homocysteine, which is responsible for inflammation, plaque buildup, and cognitive impairment. Vitamin E is known to protect cells from inflammation and damage, and vitamin K1 and other nutrients are now viewed as being beneficial. 

Some older adults need help preparing nutritious meals. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Fort Myers seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

Top Foods for Brain Health 

Researchers believe it is possible for seniors to gain the benefits of brain-protecting foods even when including them later in life. One serving per day constitutes one cup of the desired vegetable, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. Prepackaged greens and other vegetables can easily be transformed into salads or smoothies. Greens are not the only brain-healthy foods. Some of the healthiest vegetables seniors should consider eating include: 

  • Arugula, romaine, red leaf, and butter lettuce
  • Kale and spinach
  • Collard and mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Asparagus and avocados
  • Carrots, celery, and cucumbers
  • Tomatoes

Cognitive decline is a serious health concern that impacts a senior’s independence, mobility, and overall quality of life. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Fort Myers home care company you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your senior loved one, give us a call at 239.449.4701 today.