Our Brain on Greens
Do we really need another reason to eat greens?
Depends if you want to optimize your brain.
Lutein and zeaxanthin found in leafy greens may counter cognitive aging.
In other words, the more leafy-green foods we eat the more of these fat loving nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin migrate to our brain and protects our sensitive brain against inflammation and degeneration.
A study from the University of Illinois which included 60 adults aged 25 to 40 found that higher levels of these powerhouse carotenoids had neural responses of younger individuals.
Some of the foods that may help make us cognitive powerhouses are spinach, kale & egg yolks, avocados, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes and spices like cayenne, basil, and paprika.
It appears the younger we start with these rich carotenoid foods, the better because differences in cognition and brain volume can be seen starting in the 30s or earlier.
The greater the concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in our brain translate into better brains and the younger we start the higher the concentrations can be.
Unfortunately, both lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients we cannot make on our own so we must get it from either our food or a supplement.
Fortunately, this fat-loving duo likes to accumulate in fatty tissue and since the dry weight of our brain and nervous system is 60% fat, lutein and zeaxanthin are perfect nutrients for our brain and they love to take the journey north to our cranium.
As a side benefit, both lutein and zeaxanthin also accumulate in the retina of our eyes which is actually how the scientists extrapolated the overall lutein accumulation in the fatty tissue of the brains of the test subjects.
In a study performed in 2014, macular pigment optical density which is the measurement of these carotenoids accumulated in the retina has been specifically linked to cognitive and brain health.
In other words, the more lutein and zeaxanthin accumulated in the retina, the more lutein and zeaxanthin were known to accumulate in the brain and since the correlation between retinal carotenoids and cognition have been shown, we can correlate the amount of retinoids in the brain and cognition.
So, in conclusion, this stunning truth which has been told to us over and over again is we best eat lots of green leafy vegetables for yet another reason: now we know it'll help keep us quick-witted and remembering why we walked into the room well into our elder years.