You can thank mom and dad for forcing you to finish your greens before getting up from the dinner table. While they knew veggies and salads were good for you, they might not have known exactly how much so.

Salads are packed with essential nutrients — protein, iron, and fiber, just to name a few. And now, researchers have found that eating one to two servings of leafy green salads per day can improve your memory and overall cognitive ability.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, was lead by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center. Over the span of 4.7 years, Morris and her colleagues looked at 960 participants, ages 58 – 99. Volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires on the frequency they ate foods like spinach, salad, kale, collards and other greens. They were also asked to complete yearly thinking and memory skills tests to gauge cognitive abilities.

The team of researchers followed up with the participants over a 10 year time span and found that the brains of the people who ate the most salads were “the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age.”

Because the study was observational, the data could not give concrete evidence of the link between greens and brain health. For now, only a correlation between the two can be supported. Additional research is needed to include younger, Hispanic and non-white people.

But no matter who you are, adding an additional serving of spinach to your diet is never a bad idea, so go ahead and wash off a few extra leaves and celebrate your exceptional cerebral health with a big bowl of crunchy, green salad.

(h/t Men’s Health)

Get more greens in your diet with this Kale, butternut squash salad. 

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.