The Brain and Kale Connection

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Studies show that incorporating leafier green vegetables into one’s diet can help slow down cognitive decline especially among people in their advanced age. In a study conducted by the researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) and Rush University, they found out that those who consume 1 ½ servings of green leafy vegetables daily had the cognitive skills of people who are eleven years younger than those people who ate little to no leafy vegetables.

Dementia as A Global Crisis

The finding of this study is very significant considering that there is an increasing number of people in the United States who have dementia. In fact, the number of patients who have dementia is expected to rise to 15 million by 2050. However, it is not only in the United States that dementia is a big problem. Many seniors in Europe and Asia also have dementia. The rising number of patients who have dementia makes us wonder if there is a link between the disease and the type of diet we consume.

The study involved 960 adults between the ages 58 and 99. The participants took annual tests to assess different aspects of their brain function such as memory and learning. The researchers also looked into the amount of green leafy vegetables consumed by the participants.

What’s Inside Green Leafy Vegetables?

Published in the journal Neurology, the study concluded that better brain health was obtained by meeting dietary recommendations. Senior author of the study Sarah Booth noted that incorporating green leafy vegetables in one’s diet can have a lot of benefits, especially on the brain function. The reason why green leafy vegetables are so beneficial to brain function is that they contain significant amounts of vitamin K, folate, and lutein which slow down cognitive decline. Researchers suggest consuming all kinds of green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, watercress, and other locally sourced leafy greens.

Mechanisms Yet to Be Understood About The Brain and Kale Connection

While the study has very significant results about brain health and its protection, the publication opened and raised many questions about how the leafy greens mainly protect the brain. Unfortunately, the mechanism on how the brain is protected is still not fully understood. Sarah Booth noted that additional studies are underway involving studying different brain sections of deceased participants who agreed to donate their brain and other tissues for further studies.  This may well allow the researchers to unlock the mystery behind the brain and kale connection.

While the exact mechanism on how the eating leafy greens help protect the brain is yet to be understood, the message is quite apparent and that eating leafy green vegetables is useful not only for your body but even your mind especially when you get older. To date, the dietary recommendation states that eating at least one to 2 servings (or equivalent to two cups) of vegetables can do wonders for the brain, but you can always eat more. In any case, there is no overdose when it comes to eating green leafy vegetables. Only benefits… no dangers.

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FDA Approves Folic Acid Fortification Corn Masa Flour

Folic acid or folate is a type of B vitamin that is needed by pregnant women. It has essential functions in the development of the neural tubes to the brain and spinal cord of the fetus to develop properly. Eating folate-rich food is imperative not only for pregnant women but women in general. Consumption of 400mg of folic acid daily is enough to prevent the progression of neural tube defects. There are many sources of folic acid and it is important for women to eat a generous serving of these foods like lentils, spinach, broccoli, eggs and fortified grains and pasta.

Neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly are estimated to occur in 3,000 pregnancies in the United States every year. It is caused by minimal to no intake of folic acid. This is the reason why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed on the fortification of food as an effective means of addressing micronutrient deficiencies.

Folic Acid Fortification to Help Hispanic American Women

Mandatory fortification of grains started in 1998, but despite this, there is a significant number of Hispanic children who suffer from this condition. Thus, one of the ways to diminish the inconsistency is to fortify the corn masa flour to improve the total consumption of folic acid among Hispanic women.

Corn masa flour is a primary component of Spanish dough that is made from cooking corn and alkali and grinding them. It is a staple food for many Latin Americans particularly those from Central America and Mexico. This type of flour has a wide variety of uses such as making tortillas, taco shells, tamales and corn chips. While corn masa flour is high in providing the necessary carbohydrates and energy for the body, it does not contain B vitamins. You would have to eat other foods that contain folic acid to get your daily intake.

Several types of research showed that Hispanic women have a lower intake of folate than non-Hispanic women.  As such, the US FDA has approved the fortification of corn masa flour with folic acid. Manufacturers of the corn flour should add up to 0.7 milligrams of folic acid per pound of masa flour. Increasing the consumption of folic acid in enriched corn masa flour is helpful in reducing the incidence of neural tube defects especially among populations wherein corn flour is a staple in their diet.

Studies showed that fortification of corn masa flour with folic acid can increase the daily intake of said nutrient in Hispanic women by as much as 20% which is higher compared to the normal consumption of only 4%. This also reduces the need for Hispanic women to take daily synthetic supplements as they can get their folate from staple food sources.

The addition of folic acid on corn masa flour was done after conducting a scientific safety review to ensure that adding the micronutrient is safe for the general populace. FDA also evaluated dietary exposure, toxicology data as well as other relevant information to make sure that corn flour enriched with folic acid is not only effective in preventing NTD but also safe.

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