Your Mother was Right: Eat your Vegetables

 
 

Dr phyllis books broccoliIn the field of nutrition and wellness, green foods are well known for their health giving properties. 

Even though a huge percentage of Americans still shun vegetables, this is one case where the majority doesn’t rule. 

New research on vegetables and aging says again why your mother was right. Eating vegetables keeps the brain sharp and alert and may slow the mental decline often associated with aging.

On measures of mental sharpness, older people who ate more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared five years younger at the end of the six year study than those who ate few or no vegetables. (more)

The  Neurology journal published a study with grants funded from the National Institute on Aging.  The tests included measures of short term and delayed memory, which asked the participants to recall elements of a story that had just been read to them.  They were also given a flashcard-like exercise using symbols and numbers.

Overall, people did gradually worse on these tests over time, but those who ate more than two vegetable servings a day had about 40% less mental decline than those who ate few or no vegetables.

The study also found that people who ate lots of vegetables were more physically active, adding to evidence that “what’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” says neuroscientist Maria Carillo, director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale and collars appeared to be the most beneficial (usually, in the vegetable world, the darker green the vegetable, the more nutritious it is).  The researchers said that may be because they contain healthy amounts of  vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells. The fats from healthy oils can help keep cholesterol low and arteries clear, which both contribute to brain health.

Vegetables generally contain more vitamin E than fruits, which were not linked with slowed mental decline in the study. Vegetables are often eaten with healthy fats such as salad oils, which help the body absorb vitamin E and other antioxidant, said lead author Martha Clare Morris of the Rush Institute for Healthy Again at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

So, you can fool some of the people some of the time as the old saying goes. But you can’t fool your body. It wants vegetables and good fuel. Your fuel and your engine need to be properly maintained for long term performance and endurance.

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