Eat Greens to Keep Your Mind Sharp
A keen memory, quick wit, critical thinking—these are aspects of a youthful mind that we all hope to enjoy well into our later years. Luckily, there are things we can do to keep our minds sharp. Regular exercise with a workout routine like the Curves workout and a healthy eating plan not only keep your body fit and healthy, they can also help keep your mind in good shape as you age. The Curves Nutrition Program can help; it includes healthy eating advice from your Curves coach and meal plans for women like you, who want to stay healthy mentally and physically.
When it comes to good brain foods, research suggests that you may want to add spinach, kale, collards, mustard and other greens to your plate. A study1 done at Rush University Medical Center showed that people who ate one to two servings of greens a day had the cognitive abilities of someone 11 years younger compared with people who ate no greens.
The research team tracked 954 men and women, average age 81, for 2 to 10 years. They also analyzed the diets of the study participants and tested their mental acuity. Each year, the researchers administered 19 cognitive tests that assessed abilities, including short- and long-term memory, cognitive speed, language skills, and problem solving. And the leafy greens eaters performed the best.
To identify which nutrients in greens might be responsible for the top test scores, the researchers calculated the daily intake of nutrients from the foods consumed by study participants and matched those levels against the test results. They found that higher levels of Vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene from foods was associated with better brain power.
Carotenoids, including lutein and beta-carotene, are known to act as antioxidants in the eye and protect against a number of diseases, such as macular degeneration, but the role of carotenoids in the health of other regions of the brain is still in question. Researchers do know that low levels of folate raise homocysteine levels, which is associated with an increased risk for dementia.
More research needs to be done, however.
The only way to know which, if any, of the nutrients—vitamin K, lutein, folate, or beta-carotene—truly benefits brain health is to test each one individually. And further dietary studies are needed to confirm that eating greens can indeed prevent mental decline and possibly dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the Rush University study joins three others in the U.S. that have discovered an association between eating leafy green vegetables and slower mental decline.
Eat smart; include more green in your healthy eating plan now.
hy wait for the final verdict to start incorporating more greens into your healthy eating plan? We know dark-green leafy vegetables are nutrition superstars, rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, K, and some B vitamins including folate, which is good for your heart and helps prevent cancer. Calcium and vitamin K protect bone strength and help prevent osteoporosis. Finally, greens are abundant in antioxidants, making them one of the best cancer-fighting foods around. And you can eat lots and lots of green leafy veggies. They’re low in calories, carbs, and fat, which makes them a great part of a weight loss eating plan. A cup of spinach2 contains a mere 7 calories; a cup of kale, 8; and a cup of collards, 12 calories.
So, go ahead and take a chance on the possibility that greens may help you become the sharpest 90-year-old on your block, because there are plenty of other reasons to pack dark green leafy vegetables into your healthy diet. Plus, they are versatile. Toss them together in a salad. Add them to soups, stews, and omelets. Pile them onto sandwiches, or savor their flavor solo, sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic.
In addition to engaging in your regular full body workout at Curves, eating greens every day is a very smart thing to do, wouldn’t you agree? If you’re looking for more information on a healthy eating plan, Curves Nutrition and Weight Management Program is a healthy, balanced, and sustainable weight loss program with an exit strategy. Plus, your Curves Coach will be there, in-club or online, to help hold you accountable to the goals you set. For more information about Curves Nutrition Plan, visit https://www.curves.com/classes/nutrition-weight-management.