Beat dementia... with a FORK!

The other day, I saw kale chips for sale in the local supermarket.

If that's not a sure sign that the kale craze has peaked, I don't know what is.

Now, I didn't buy those chips. Processed food is still processed food.

But I do eat kale -- and so should you -- because it's the single best source by far of a key carotenoid that most people miss out on.

And new research shows how boosting your intake of this one nutrient could protect your brain from the damage of age.

It's as if the fork in the road of aging is a salad fork!

Eat more greens, especially that kale, and you'll go down the path toward healthy aging, staying sharp even as you get older.

Miss out, and you'll end up down that other path -- one that leads to cognitive impairment, decline, and dementia.

The nutrient you want is called lutein, and it's best known for protecting vision.

As important as that is (especially among older folks), a new study shows it might play an even bigger role in your brain.

Simply put: The more lutein in your body, the "younger" your brain will be!

Like so many studies of cognitive health, this one involved a test of attention, but with a twist.

The researchers weren't too interested in how the volunteers scored on the test. They really wanted to see what happened inside the brain during the test itself.

Electrodes attached to the scalp allowed the scientists to watch in real time as the neurons fired away during the test.

How those neurons work -- and how efficiently they work -- tends to change as we get older. But if you have high levels of lutein, your own neurons may not change much at all.

The study finds that people with more of the nutrient have signals that look a lot like what we see in younger people. They're able to muster more "cognitive resources" when needed to complete each task.

The volunteers in this study were all middle-aged or younger, as the researchers wanted to look at folks who hadn't shown any obvious signs of cognitive decline yet.

But we've seen similar results i n older folks.

One study published back in spring even found that seniors with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, another essential carotenoid, have better overall brain function.

You'll find these two nutrients in kale and other greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and turnip greens. You'll also find them in any decent vision protection formula, and it's not a coincidence.

Turns out your vision and your memory are more connected that you might think.

I'll have more on that in tomorrow's House Calls. Keep an eye on your inbox!