There are plenty of sayings that refer to the benefits of eating healthy food, sayings that are being increasingly proven by today’s cutting-edge science—and an excellent example is how more and more researchers are concluding that eating your greens helps you to enjoy better health, including a healthy brain.
In this post, we’re gathering together insights from numerous experts, publishing them in one place, and we encourage you to take a look at this research-based information about eating greens for better brain health. (If you’re already convinced of the health benefits of eating greens, feel free to skip to the section titled Nutritional Rainbow of Options, where you can find information about and links to a wide range of delicious and nutritious farm-fresh greens!)
Is There One Single Brain Food?
According to a Harvard publication, the answer is “no.” And, that’s a good thing, in our opinion– because, if there was, eating that might start to feel like taking medicine. Instead, the Harvard experts, say, “Just as there is no magic pill to prevent cognitive decline, no single almighty brain food can ensure a sharp brain as you age.”
Instead, they encourage a diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They suggest that people get their protein from plant sources and fish and use healthy fats.
Having said that, certain foods are being shown to be brain healthy ones, ones that can “translate into better mental function,” and those include leafy greens. Examples they give of the best foods for brain health are as follows: kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli.
Plus, Brain and Life gives arugula a shout-out as a leafy green that may keep your “brain sharp.”
Scientific Research about Brain Food
A January 2018 study published in Neurology concluded that eating at least a half a cup of cooked leafy green vegetables or a cup of raw ones daily is connected to a slower decline in the function of the brain. This research was conducted by experts at Tufts Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and they came to this amazing conclusion: “lovers of leafy greens were the equivalent of 11 years younger than those who shunned the stuff.”
Specific nutrients that leafy green vegetables provide in abundance include the following:
Each of these nutrients is associated with better cognitive health.
NPR has provided an overview of this study, and we love their opening summary: “To age well,” they say, “we must eat well.” They also share research from 2006, published by the National Institutes of Health, that also highlights leafy green vegetables as healthy brain foods, applauding cauliflower.
An article published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience focused on the importance of lutein-rich foods, sharing that these foods may help to support brain health. Foods with high lutein content include spinach, kale, and dandelion greens, as well as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
A CBS report lists two greens to consider: romaine and chard.
And, while we may be getting slightly off the subject of brain health, we want to mention that, while there are numerous health benefits of greens, there’s a truly powerful nutritional punch in microgreens.
Health Benefits of Microgreens
A couple of years ago, we shared information about a scientific study that focused on microgreens. The beauty of microgreens, according to a USDA researcher, is that, “Because microgreens are harvested right after germination, all the nutrients they need to grow are there . . . If they are harvested at the right time, they are very concentrated with nutrients, and the flavor and texture is also good.”
Specific microgreens contain, in fact, up to 40 times the nutritional punch as their full-grown counterparts. These include cilantro, radish, and red cabbage—and this supports what we’ve been saying for a really long time: microgreens are far more than a garnish.
Brain Health and the MIND Diet
Research has also shown that the MIND diet—a hybrid of the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet—lessens the chance of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease and has been show to slow brain aging by more than seven years.
As a step one, the Mayo Clinic says this: Load up on vegetables. As part of this diet, choose green leafy veggies, including kale, collards, spinach and lettuce. They recommend at least six servings of greens weekly, with at least one serving of another type of vegetable each day.
Berries play a role, especially blueberries and strawberries, along with nuts—and, another core tenet of the diet is to embrace meals that are meat-free. They aren’t saying to avoid meat entirely, but to find opportunities to substitute legumes, including beans, soybeans and lentils. Plus eating fish at least once a week is recommended.
Healthline lists the following as the healthiest choices:
A note about beet greens: Jamie Simpson, the executive chef of the Culinary Vegetable Institute, has a special place in his heart for these greens. He says that, because of the versatility of beet greens, when you buy fresh beets, you’re really getting two vegetables for the price of one.
Now, here are a few more relevant quotes:
Greens are the primary food group that matches human nutritional needs most completely. (Victoria Boutenko)
Someone has to stand up and say the answer isn’t another pill. The answer is spinach. (Bill Maher)
Greens feed our souls, refresh our minds, and nourish our grateful bodies. (Terri Guillemets)
There is no substitute for a diet rich in leafy greens. (Sergei Boutenko)
Incredibly Versatility of Farm-Fresh Greens
The chief science officer (CSO) at the Alzheimer’s Association, in an article published in AAPR, shared another benefit of using leafy greens for your health: these are, the CSO said, “some of the easiest foods to work into your eating plan . . . You can add leafy greens to the foods you consume every day, like omelets, smoothies and sandwiches, without having to build your meals around them. “Even little changes can have a significant impact.”
Nutritional Rainbow of Options
Plus, there are so many choices of farm-fresh greens that you’ll never get bored. Note that availability varies according to the cycles of Mother Nature.
Although, in general, we’re going to list greens in alphabetical order in this section, we’ve decided to start with sorrel and spinach—in part because of their popularity and in part because of the diversity available.
We’d noted so much interest in sorrel that we’ve dedicated an entire blog post to exploring sorrel favorites of some of our chefs.
If you’d like to experiment with fresh sorrel in your dishes, consider Sour Blend Small Bites, which includes amethyst sorrel, plum lucky sorrel, red ribbon sorrel, lucky sorrel and Peruvian clover.
Other choices include:
Flaming lucky sorrel
Lucky clover sorrel
Mixed lucky sorrel
Rainbow lucky sorrel
Spinach is one of our signature crops, with Brix readings showing how the natural sugar content of our root spinach is literally as high as that of an apple. Like with our other crops, we don’t grow for maximum yield. Instead, we grow for flavor. We grow for nutrition.
Other spinach varieties include:
New Zealand spinach
Purple leaf spinach
Now, here are more farm-fresh greens to add flavor and nutrition to dishes!
When it comes to this green, we may be preaching to the choir, because burgundy amaranth is already one of our more popular products. This beautiful microgreen offers up an earthy, spinach-like flavor without bitterness or sharpness, and the entire microgreen is edible. If you’re already a fan of burgundy amaranth, consider trying autumn fire.
Brain and Life, as mentioned earlier, recommends this delicious green to keep your brain sharp—and we’d like to tout its other benefits, including its flavor and texture. Our traditional arugula allows you to taste the rainbow, starting out with a delightfully nutty flavor with sweet notes—ending with a salty-peppery-spicy flavor.
Other options include:
Red ribbon arugula
Rainbow Swiss Chard
WebMD.com calls Swiss chard a “nutritional powerhouse,” an excellent source of:
This product adds mildly sweet flavor to dishes, with succulent leaves and juicy stem. Other interesting names for Swiss chard include Roman kale, silverbeet, and strawberry spinach.
Picture a flavor somewhere between parsley and anise, with a mildly salty, lightly floral, grassy touch. The leafy herb is sweet and aromatic, with a juicy yet crunch edible stem topped by tender leaves.
Sea cress comes in a unique needle form, adding a salty taste, slightly bitter, to your dishes, along with a crunchy yet tender texture. Sea cress pairs up well with fish.
Watercress, meanwhile, provides a slightly spicy, peppery flavor to salads, soups, sandwiches, and more.
This is quite popular with our chefs, with our mesclun including tender lettuce leaves, spicy Asian greens, beet tops, herb tops and cruciferous leaves, with flavors ranging from sharp to spicy and every flavor note in between.
Our traditional mesclun greens have a balanced flavor, slightly salty, slightly sweet, slightly bitter and slightly sour. Textures are well rounded, from crisp to buttery, and from brittle to those that bight back—in colors including green, red, amber, chartreuse, lime and magenta.
If you’re a fan of flavorful mustard greens, you’ve got plenty to choose from, including:
Ruffled red mustard
These rosettes add delightful zest to stir fries, salads and more with its mildly citrusy, juicy lemon flavor, succulent texture, and golden lime-yellow leaves and stems.
This mix offers the best microgreens of the day, with a range of delicious flavors, from grassy to peppery, and from buttery to sweet, with an entire gamut of textures.
That’s not all! You can also choose:
As research has shown, greens are among the most brain healthy foods—and, because of our focus on regenerative farming practices and on physical, biological, and chemical soil health, we are growing greens with the optimal amount of flavor and nutrition.
Regenerative Agricultural Practices
Bob Jones, Sr. has a goal for The Chef’s Garden, and that’s for us to farm as well as our ancestors did a hundred years ago. Those farmers planted cover crops to build up soil health, and they embraced rotation practices—and, rather than using chemicals that destroy organic matter, they balanced the health of their soil for optimal results.
Those are the regenerative farming practices and philosophies that we follow today.
Farmacy at The Chef’s Garden
At The Chef’s Garden, you never have to choose between foods bursting with sweetness and flavor and those that are very good for your health. Our fresh vegetables and herbs, microgreens and more are incredibly flavorful, visually appealing and brimming with nutrition. Healthy eating can, indeed, be a treat for the palate and on the plate. Why? We start with healthy soil and plant our crops in harmony with nature. As they take in the sun’s vibrant rays, they are chock full of vitamins and minerals. Healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy food for people.
And, here’s one more equation: Farmacy = you can have it all!
The Chef’s Garden Difference
We hand harvest our farm-fresh greens daily, picking them to order and shipping them overnight. This assures that you’ll receive the freshest, most vibrant and flavorful produce available. This is our efficiently shipped Earth to Table® promise that ensures ultimate freshness, incredible flavor and prolonged shelf-life, resulting in less waste for your business.
Let us be your personal farmer. Contact us today!