Leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are chock-full of folate, which is vital for cell growth and red blood cell formation. They also back carotenes (pigments that act as antioxidants) that help maintain healthy vision, bones, teeth, and skin.
“Folate from natural food sources helps protect brain function as we age,” Dixon says. On the other hand, “carotenes bring a boost of antioxidants, which protect against DNA decay or the breakdown of cells,” she adds. “This damage can accumulate over time, contributing to cancer and heart disease.”
Just be sure to stick with whole foods to get your fill of folate, instead of supplements. Taking folic acid supplements can increase your risk of certain cancers, notably colon cancer, Dixon says.