Harvard Medical School researchers found that middle-aged women who ate the most leafy greens and/or cruciferous veggies boosted their odds of maintaining mental sharpness in later years. Specifically, those who ate eight or more servings of vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, scored higher on cognitive tests than subjects who consumed just three servings a week.
Obesity doubles the risk of developing dementia , according to a 21-year longitudinal study involving 1,500 people presented by Swedish researchers. The risk level was six times higher for those with obesity-related ailments such as hypertension and high cholesterol. Inflammation and impeded blood flow to the brain might be among the factors that leave the obese more vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s.
Experts fear that today’s obesity crisis could exacerbate tomorrow’s Alzheimer’s epidemic. Current estimates project that today’s 4.5 million Alzheimer’s cases could rise to 16 million by mid-century. But even these projections may be too modest as they fail to incorporate the seemingly inexorable march of rising obesity rates.
Both studies, however, point to a common prevention strategy. The same vegetables found to preserve brain power in the Harvard study are high in fiber and low in calories, making them smart choices for anyone trying to keep both free radicals and excess pounds at bay. So protect yourself from such cerebral saboteurs by filling up on fruits and vegetables, which provide maximum antioxidant bang for your calorie buck.
Want to learn more? Check out these related items from past issues of the DNN:
And remind your loved ones to safeguard their cerebellum with one of these adorablee-cards!
Published October 12, 2004