Thursday, December 28, 2017

Keep your brain young--get up close and personal with kale, collard greens and cabbage

Here’s the latest bright shiny new study that tells you what your mother told you years ago.

Eat your vegetables.

The new study, published Dec. 20, 2017, in the journal Neurology, says that if you eat vegetables, your brain age is younger.

And if you eat a lot of veggies, it’s a lot younger.

“In a linear mixed model adjusted for age, sex, education, participation in cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking, and seafood and alcohol consumption, consumption of green leafy vegetables was associated with slower cognitive decline.

"The decline rate for those in the highest quintile of intake was … the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age,” said the authors, Martha Clare Morris, Yamin Wang, Lisa L. Barnes, David A. Bennett, Bess Dawson-Hughes and Sarah L. Booth. 

The article is entitled “Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study.” Here’s a link to it

It seems like a well-done study, and it’s getting a lot of media attention. The authors studied nearly 1000 individuals aged 58 to 99, surveyed them about their eating habits, and did multiple health assessments over nearly a five-year period.

Are there particular vegetables that work best? The science team found that it’s those that contain vitamin K (phylloquinone), lutein, β-carotene, nitrate, folate, kaempferol, and α-tocopherol. 

That may be a meaningless list to most folks, but think leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens and even lettuce.

One caveat is that this study only looked at the things people were already eating. There are other studies that suggest benefits of other foods that are not commonly eaten. 

Wild foods in many cases may contain micronutrients that might not be available elsewhere, says this different study

That could be an argument for protecting wild endangered plants—they might have significant health benefits that domestic plants could lack. The study cites wild asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius), wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), a weed called maiden’s tears (Silene vulgaris).

Nettles are listed as important sources of vitamins, and of course in Hawai`i, folks have long made a tea out of the leaves of a pricker-less Hawaiian nettle, mamaki (Pipturus albidus).

A study in the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development cites some of the health benefits of a lot of veggies, including the crucifers like cabbage and broccoli, the aliums like onions and garlic, the chenopods like spinach and chard, and the solanaceous plants like tomatoes and peppers.

The upshot, as your mother always told you, eat them vegetables.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2017

1 comment:

Jim Richardson said...

Kale is recommended to significantly slow progression of macular degeneration. My Kaiser eye surgeon, James Pitts, puts kale atop the list of food that helps maintain eye health.