Salads have been the go to meal for dieters since before Jane Fonda donned her first pair of leg warmers. We all know leafy greens are good for our bodies, but new research is showing that they are also good for our brains.
As we age, all humans experience some degree of cognitive decline, often exemplified by forgetfulness and the inability to focus or problem solve. This decline is due to a little thing called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when your body is unable to counteract the effects of free radicals. Now if this seems confusing, let me help you out. Imagine your body is a planet located in a galaxy far, far away. You are constantly being invaded by storm troopers (free radicals) and up until now you have been fighting them off. However, as the years pass, the storm troopers have been getting the upper hand. Then along comes a lone Jedi who again returns balance to everything. That Jedi, my friends, is lettuce …and kale, and spinach, as well as many other leafy greens.
Leafy greens are chock full of lutein, which seems to have a protective effect on the brain. One study by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana found that the brains of those with higher levels of lutein performed at levels similar to those of much younger participants. Since lutein cannot be produced by the body, we must rely on food sources to provide what we need. So next time you eat lunch, go ahead and have that salad, your brain will thank you.
Adrienne Day is the Compliance & Education Specialist for Tiger Corner Farms. She previously opened and ran a successful Montessori school in Jacksonville, FL that focused on sustainability and bringing children outdoors. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and lovable pups, Igby and George.