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Leafy Greens Boost Cognition in Older Folks

An exciting new report in the journal Frontiers In Aging Science holds hope for people like me whose age is catching up with them. I may not be the fittest of figures physically, but I now know how to bolster my brain functions as I near my ‘Best Before’ Date: Eat more Leafy Greens!

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Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus say that simply eating more foods rich in Lutein – Kale, Spinach, Avocados and Eggs – can help keep older folks cognitively fit.

Lutein is a nutrient that the body can’t make on its own, so it must be acquired through diet. Lutein accumulates in brain tissues, but also accumulates in the eye, which allows researchers to measure levels without relying on invasive techniques.

“The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of Lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less Lutein,” said Anne Walk, lead author of the report. “Lutein appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more Lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete [a given] task.”

The sooner, the better…

But there’s also the factor of natural cognitive decline with age which colours Lutein experiments. Walk says it appears that the earlier one starts eating Lutine-rich foods, the bigger the positive impact on their brain function in later life:

“We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If Lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume Lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.”

The Illinois U. research group is already planning further studies to learn more about the beneficial effects of Lutein.

~ Maggie J.