31/03/2015 08:04 BST | Updated 31/03/2015 08:59 BST

Eating Leafy Greens Such As Spinach And Kale Every Day Could Protect Brain Health And Reduce Dementia Risk, Study Suggests

Popeye may have been on to something eating all that spinach.

Eating just two portions of leafy greens per day can significantly help protect brain health and reduce the risk of dementia, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at Rush University in Chicago found that pensioners who regularly ate one or two portions of green veg - such as spinach or kale - experienced a less significant decline in cognitive function than those who didn't.

spinach

Participants had an average age of 81 years, but hose who ate one or two portions of green veg per day were found to have a brain age that was 11 years younger than their actual age.

The scientists evaluated the diet and mental ability of around 950 older people to draw their conclusions.

Participants were monitored for a minimum of two years and a maximum of 10 years.

Factors such as family history of dementia and exercise were taken in to account, but the veg-eating participants were still found to have an overall younger brain age than the non-veg eating ones.

“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older," lead researcher Martha Clare Morris commented on the study.

"Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

SEE ALSO:

Watercress, Spinach And Chicory Named 'Powerhouse Vegetables'

Healthy Eating And Brain-Training Can Slow Dementia, Study Finds

This isn't the fist study to suggest green vegetables can help keep the brain young and healthy.

A previous study from The University of California San Francisco made a link between anaemia and dementia.

The researchers found that people with anemia were more likely to develop brain degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, than those who were not anemic.

Therefore, they concluded, eating iron-rich foods such as spinach to combat anemia can also reduce the risk of brain degenerative conditions.

Spinach Recipes For Spring