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Rewind Your Cognitive Age By 10+ Years Eating This Food Every Day

brain food brain health Oct 18, 2022
brain foods for memory

Vegetables are your brain’s best friend.

For optimal cognitive health, your brain needs to be properly nourished. When it comes to brain foods for memory, dark leafy greens hit the top of the list.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • What the science says about dark leafy greens and your risk of cognitive decline
  • Types of dark leafy greens to add to your daily diet
  • Simple hacks to effortlessly add more greens to your day

Dark leafy greens can improve your memory

Dark leafy greens are low in sugar and packed full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that your brain needs to function.

Dark leafy greens are neuroprotective. Consumption of these vegetables has been associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults. Results from this study indicated that individuals who consumed one or more servings of dark leafy greens per day demonstrated cognitive testing scores that were eleven years younger than their non-leafy green eating counterparts.

Think of yourself eleven years ago! That's a huge brain benefit for a small, daily diet change.

How are dark leafy greens so powerful?

Dark leafy greens are so powerful because of the nutrients and bioactive compounds they deliver. Vitamins E, K, Folate, lutein and beta carotene are all essential to your brain health. Each of these compounds plays a role in protecting your brain.

Dark leafy greens are packed full of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is vital in fighting free radicals and oxidative stress. Both of which are linked to the development of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Reduced levels of vitamin E have also been found in Alzheimer’s patients.

While Vitamin E is one of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, most people don't consume enough Vitamin E in their daily life. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 15mg per day from dietary sources. Consuming 1 cup of raw spinach (6mg Vitamin E) can get you nearly halfway to meeting your daily need.

Dark leafy greens provide Vitamin K

Another fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for protecting fatty brain cell membranes is vitamin K. The anti-inflammatory properties in Vitamin K ward off dementia and memory decline. 

Dark leafy greens contain Lutein

Lutein is a carotenoid that is commonly known for protecting your eyes. But just as Lutein protects your vision as you age, it can also protect your brain from decline.

Dark leafy greens have Beta Carotene

The antioxidant properties of beta carotene help to destroy free radicals and prevent oxidative damage that can destroy brain cells. Oxidative damage is one of the largest contributing factors to cognitive decline and brain aging, and beta carotene can help to preserve your memory.

Dark leafy greens pack Folate

Decreased folate levels have been linked to dementia, brain aging and depression. Folate levels need to be maintained not only to promote cognition but also to enhance mood.

Eating more brain foods for memory

Dark leafy greens can be vital to your cognitive health. Incorporating more brain foods for memory can protect your clear thinking now and, in the future, and it doesn't have to be hard. Looking for easy and delicious brain healthy recipes? Grab my list of the best brain health cookbooks

Adding dark leafy greens to your diet

As a rule of thumb, the deeper in color your fruits and vegetables are, the more antioxidant power they have. This applies to fruits like grapes and berries as well as vegetables like spinach versus iceberg lettuce.

Dark leafy greens to try:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Swiss chard
  • Bok Choy
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Mustard greens

According to the American Heart Association, the serving size for dark leafy greens is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.

Try these simple daily hacks to add in more greens:

  1. Test out which greens you enjoy the most.

This may sound overly simple but try different types of greens and identify which ones you truly enjoy eating. My personal favorites are kale and spinach because I find that they are the most versatile for my everyday eating. I grab a large tub of organic greens each week to keep in the fridge. I use this game-changing container to keep them fresh.

  1. Experiment with raw versus cooked.

There are benefits to eating both raw and cooked vegetables. Experiment to find what works best for you. For example, raw kale can be delicious in salad or sauteed with garlic and olive oil as a side dish for dinner.

  1. Adopt a habit of asking yourself what memory helping foods you can add to each meal.

So much of diet culture focuses on what to remove from your diet, which can throw you into a pattern of constant elimination. Instead, focus on what you can add into your diet. For example, throw a handful of spinach into your morning omelet or add a bed of spinach below your pasta at lunch.

  1. Mix it up.

Try new recipes that include different kinds of greens. Need some inspiration? Here is a list with three of the best brain healthy cookbooks that show you exactly how to add in these cognitive and memory helping foods in delicious, easy to cook meals.

Effortless ways to add dark leafy greens into your day:

  • Lay a bed of greens on your plate, then add whatever you plan to eat on top of it. This works especially well with pastas, stews, or rice dishes.
  • Blend it in. Add a cup of spinach to your smoothies and sauces. You’ll get the brain healthy benefits without even realizing that it’s there.
  • Use it for crunch. Whenever I’m crafting a sandwich or a wrap, I focus on adding in different textures. Dark leafy greens like kale or raw cabbage can add flavor, volume, and a great crunch.
  • Get it in at breakfast. If you’re a savory breakfast eater, aim to get your greens in early. This habit packs a punch with little to no additional effort and creates a great routine to reap the cognitive benefits with 1 cup of dark leafy greens per day.

Protecting your cognitive health just got easier.

Dementia and neurodegenerative diseases are as scary as they are prevalent. If eating leafy greens protects you from cognitive decline, then your next stop should definitely be the produce aisle.

As a memory health coach, here's why I love this information:

  1. It's a simple act that can reap big benefits.
  2. It can improve your cognitive functioning now and slow your risk of decline with age.
  3. It positively impacts your gut health, which is critical to your physical and mental health.
  4. It's easy, packs a punch with little cost and without any negative side effects.

It’s a no-brainer to give it a try. 

*Information is this article is not dietary or medical advice.

*This article contains affiliate links.

Questions?

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Meet the Coach

Hey there! I'm Francine, a speech-language pathologist turned memory health coach with a passion for helping you overcome your memory problems.

In my practice, I help women trade memory problems for confidence and clarity everyday so they can think clearly and remember easily, without constant self-doubt weighing them down. 

If you're struggling with poor recall and foggy thinking, you're in the right place and I want to help you!

 

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