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Eating certain vegetables could prevent dementia in older adults


Healthy aging
(NaturalNews) Could carotenoids be the secret to preventing cognitive decline? New research has suggested that eating foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and kale could have a powerful impact on your brain's health and functionality, especially as you age.

Carotenoids are a group of antioxidant compounds that often provide the fruits and vegetables that contain them with a range of vibrant colors. They are also associated with improving cognitive ability. In this most recent study, researchers found that those who consumed fewer carotenoids required more of their brains to complete memory-oriented tasks, when compared to those who ate more carotenoids.

To conduct their study, the scientists from the University of Georgia used functional MRI technology so that they could investigate how different levels of carotenoids affect brain activity. More than 40 adults between the ages of 65 and 86 participated in the research. The study authors analyzed the participants' brain activity while they attempted to recall word pairings that they had earlier been taught. During the recall activity, the MRI scans were used to monitor their brain activity.

The researchers found that individuals with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin didn't require as much brain activity to complete the recall. However, participants with lower levels of those nutrients needed more brain power and relied more heavily on different parts of the brain to remember the word pairings.

The study's lead researcher, Cutter Lindbergh, stated, "There's a natural deterioration process that occurs in the brain as people age, but the brain is great at compensating for that. One way it compensates is by calling on more brain power to get a job done so it can maintain the same level of cognitive performance."

In other words, the results exhibited by those who consumed fewer carotenoids are actually indicative of cognitive decline; the more brain power an activity begins to require, the more compensation is going on. Lindbergh also commented that supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin may actually be one way to help combat age-related cognitive decline. While their research did not display any correlation between the consumption of carotenoids and number of words recalled, the researchers contend that their experiment showcased how the brain will go into "overdrive" as a means to compensate for decreased cognitive ability.

Lindbergh also commented, "On the surface, it looked like everyone was doing the same thing and recalling the same words. But when you pop the hood and look at what's actually going on in the brain, there are significant differences related to their carotenoid levels."

In addition to these brain-boosting effects, carotenoids have many other health benefits. These antioxidant nutrients also display great cancer-fighting effects in the human body. Some carotenoids are converted into vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision and normal growth and development. Carotenoids also have anti-inflammatory properties, immune system benefits, and some are even associated with promoting cardiovascular health.

Most often when we think of carotenoid-containing foods, we think of red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. However, this is not always the case. Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers and oranges are all foods that are known to contain carotenoids. As you may have noticed, several of these are on the opposite end of the color wheel – like spinach and kale. There are over 600 different types of carotenoids, which could explain why there is such a variation in color expression.

Carotenoids are just one of the many valuable nutrients that fruits and vegetables have to offer, but they offer a wide array of health benefits that simply shouldn't be ignored.

Sources:

DailyMail.co.uk

LiveScience.com

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