As if you needed another reason to eat your vegetables, a new study has found that those who eat at least one serving of leafy greens a day—including cooked spinach, collard greens, and kale—have a better memory and cognitive function than those who never or rarely eat vegetables. The difference between those who ate greens and those who didn’t was the equivalent of being 11 years younger, in terms of cognition.

The study was published in the journal Neurology and tracked 960 people who were an average of 81-years-old. None of them showed any signs of dementia. Participants filled out a survey regarding foods they commonly ate and then had their memory and thinking skills tested. While the results don’t directly prove that green vegetables improve cognition, a correlation was found in the results.

Martha Clare Morris, study lead and nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said something we’ve long suspected. “Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.” We knew there was a reason to stock up on salad!

Over 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s. Using nutrition as a strategic measure to prevent the disease is increasingly being researched by scientists and this field of study is only expected to grow. While scientists are unsure why these specific veggies are associated with boosting your brain health, they do know that they are rich in nutrients like vitamin E and K, lutein, beta carotene, and folate.

The best part is that there are plenty of ways to incorporate leafy greens into your diet. Sneak them in a smoothie, top off your sandwich with spinach, or eat an extra side of kale with dinner. There really are no excuses for eating these vital veggies.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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