Many of us here at FoodFacts.com are old enough to remember Popeye the Sailor Man pretty well. For those that don’t, Popeye would sing, “I’m strong to the finish, cause I eat my spinach!” That beloved cartoon character inspired generations of kids to at least give spinach a try. One of the benefits of eating iron-rich foods has always been the prevention of anemia … and some of the images that were tied with anemia were weakness and exhaustion. Hence, Popeye the spinach-eating sailor had large, strong muscles and he could always win – because of his strength.
It looks like Popeye may have been on to something more than just muscle strength when it came to his fondness for iron-rich food. Today FoodFacts.com read some information that we wanted to share with our community.
Researchers have discovered that low iron levels in blood and anemia could be linked to increased risks for dementia, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.
Anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells or concentrations of hemoglobin, a protein inside red blood cells, are low.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and the American Academy of Neurology analyzed 2,552 adults between the ages of 70 and 79 who were participating in a Health, Aging and Body Composition study.
The study, which was carried out over an 11-year period, required the adults to participate in memory and thinking tests during this time. At the beginning of the study, all patients were free of dementia. At the start of the research, 393 were diagnosed with anemia and 445 had developed it by the end of the study.
The results were that the patients with anemia had a higher risk of developing dementia compared with those who were not anemic. Anemia was associated with a 41% higher chance of dementia. The association persisted even after the researchers took other factors into account, such as age, sex, race and education.
More than 3 million people in the US have anemia. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common form. It occurs when the body does not get enough iron for healthy hemoglobin production. Iron-rich foods are the easiest way to avoid anemia. These include beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish and shellfish as well as spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, peas, lentils, white and red beans, chickpeas and soybeans.
While the research notes that we shouldn’t all assume that anemia is a direct cause of dementia. But there does seem to be a definite link illustrated through study results. Further research will help provide more specific information regarding the link between iron-rich foods and a lowered risk of dementia. Meanwhile, FoodFacts.com encourages our community to enjoy a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean protein that will certainly help us avoid anemia.