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Vegetable compounds found to improve cognition in old age.


Carotenoids are pigments synthesized by plants that give vegetables their yellow, orange, and red colors. Their antioxidant properties, as well as their benefits for visual health, are well known, but emerging research suggests these compounds may have a positive impact on cognition as well.

Carotenoids are a natural plant chemical that can be found in a variety of vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and oranges.

However, some carotenoids, like lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) can also be found in dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and peas.

A variety of studies have shown that diets rich in L and Z help maintain visual health, improve visual acuity, and slow down some age-related eye diseases.

Other studies have suggested L and Z improve cognitive function in adults aged 98 years and over. Increased levels of the compounds were associated with better memory and higher verbal fluency.

However, the neural mechanisms responsible for the association between carotenoids and cognition remains unknown.

In an attempt to untangle these mechanisms, new research looks at carotenoid levels and brain activity in elderly adults.
Studying link between carotenoids and cognition in elderly adults

Researchers asked 43 community-dwelling adults aged between 65-86 years to learn and remember pairs of unrelated words while undergoing brain imaging through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

All participants were white, and 58 percent of them were women.

Scientists assessed the levels of L and Z in the retina by measuring the macular pigment optical density.

The team was led by Cutter Lindbergh, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia.

The results were published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
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Date Posted
Thursday, 24 November 2016
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017
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