Credit: © Iuliia Metkalova / Fotolia

Credit: © Iuliia Metkalova / Fotolia

Spinach and kale help reverse brain aging

Spinach and kale help reverse brain aging, according to the latest research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Most leafy green vegetables are part of the cruciferous family. Health experts have touted the benefits of leafy greens for years. They are truly nature’s potent multi-vitamins.

Eating them on a regular basis will get you a good amount of vitamin A, B, C, K not to mention some folic acid and potassium and of course fiber.

The new study, which included 60 participants from ages 25 to 45, found that participants with higher levels of lutein—a nutrient found in leafy greens like spinach and kale—had brain responses similar to younger individuals.

Now there’s an additional reason to eat nutrient-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, eggs and avocados,” said Naiman Khan, a professor of kinesiology and community health at Illinois. “We know these foods are related to other health benefits, but these data indicate that there may be cognitive benefits as well.”

Most studies on the subject focus on older adults, after cognitive decline symptoms have already set in. The new study focused on young to middle aged adults, comparing lutein levels and their effects.

As people get older, they experience typical decline. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s,” said Anne Walk, a postdoctoral scholar and first author of the paper. “We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.”

The University of Illinois press release reported on the methods:

The Illinois researchers measured lutein in the study participants’ eyes by having participants look into a scope and respond to a flickering light. Then, using electrodes on the scalp, the researchers measured neural activity in the brain while the participants performed a task that tested attention.

The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less lutein,” Walk said. “Lutein appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete the task.”

The study showing that spinach and kale help reverse brain aging was published in the journal Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience.

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1. “Lutein May Counter Cognitive Aging, Study Finds.” University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, n.d. Web. 29 July 2017.
2. “The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults.” Frontiers. Frontiers, 24 May 2017. Web. 29 July 2017.

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