Brain Food: It’s Not the Coconut Oil or the Fish, It’s the Greens

Many people are concerned about the growing number of reported cases of Alzheimer’s dementia and are looking for strategies to avoid this disabling and lethal degenerative process. I would recommend the book The Alzheimer’s Solution for a science backed plan to prevent the problem. Many have heard from a friend of a friend that fish and coconut oil prevent brain decline but are these really active and worth eating on a regular basis? Or will the mercury and pollutants in fish and the saturated fat in coconut oil kill you first? New data indicates these are not the brain foods to concentrate on but the humble leafy greens are the foods to concentrate on to concentrate.

Researchers from the Memory and Aging Project followed 960 participants over 5 years who had 2 cognitive assessments and also had a food frequency questionnaire completed. In a model assessing diet, age, sex, education, alcohol, activity, cognitive exercises, the consumption of green leafy vegetables was associated with slower cognitive decline. Cognitive decline in those who ate the most servings of green leafy vegetables (1.3 servings per day versus the lowest group at 0.1 serving per day) was slowed. If you were wondering, one half cup of cooked spinach was counted as a serving. The greens eaters showed brain ages 11 years younger than those who ate the least greens! Certain nutrients in greens in particular, like folate, lutein, vitamin E, nitrates, and B-carotene, were related to better brain power.

Dr. Morris, author of the study, indicated that greens are healthy and that “some of the nutrients already have excellent scientific evidence, such as vitamin E, a potent antioxidant which has been demonstrated in carefully controlled animal models to protect against neuron loss, oxidative stress and inflammation, and the accumulation of amyloid plaques. Other of the nutrients are newly identified” to relate to better brain health like nitrates and vitamin K. She went on to say that “Daily consumption of leafy greens may be a simple and effective way to protect against loss in memory and other cognitive abilities”.

Food fads come and go. The current hot button in the ketogenic world is that carbs kill brains, as if there were only one carb, and coconut oil protects your thinking power. While further studies are needed, heading for the salad bar and staying far away from animal based ketogenic diets, associated with a higher rate of death in many studies, is advised. If you do not like to eat green leafy vegetables, learn to make a healthy smoothie hiding them with frozen or fresh blueberries, another brain supportive food choice.

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