You know dark leafy greens like spinach are good for you. It’s one of the superfoods to put on your shopping list, after all. But did you know that spinach is good brain food, too? Popeye was on the right track with his daily dose of spinach!
Why you should eat more greens
Spinach and other leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard and collards are jam-packed with good-for-your-brain nutrients, such as folate, iron, calcium and vitamins E and K. This appears to offer the brain protection by fending off things like dementia in older adults.
Evidence from the MIND diet—which combines the popular Mediterranean diet and DASH diet, two eating patterns that have been recognized as outstanding for health—pinpoints leafy greens, as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower among the top brain foods. It turns out that eating the right vegetables will keep your brain seven and a half years younger and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent!
During the MIND diet research, healthy older adults were cognitively evaluated for almost five years to see how their diets affected their brain health. The results revealed that participants who ate at least a serving of leafy greens—that’s one cup raw, or a half cup cooked—each day were shown to keep their brains in good working order.
For good mental health, aim to have a serving of leafy greens at least six times per week. Spinach is one of those leafy greens that can easily fit into your lifestyle—whether it’s frozen, raw or cooked, your brain can benefit.
What makes spinach good brain food?
The answer may be in the B vitamin folate. It’s been shown to reduce levels of homocysteine—a compound that can be toxic to neurons. Folate levels are amped up in dark green, leafy vegetables, as well as citrus fruits, legumes and other vegetables. Get creative with spinach by using it for omelets, salads, soups, casseroles, wraps and smoothies.