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Higher Levels of Alpha-Carotene May Be Associated With Better Cognitive Function

Alpha-carotene is a carotenoid found in many foods that acts as a beneficial antioxidant. Food sources of alpha-carotene include carrots, tomatoes, tangerines, peas, and pumpkins. A recent study suggests that higher levels of plasma alpha-carotene may be associated with better cognitive function.

Participants in the study included 295 adults between the ages of 65 and 84. They all took part in The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) trial and were at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study that was used to evaluate dietary quality.

The researchers measured plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene at baseline, year 1, and year 3. They evaluated episodic memory, perceptual speed, and global cognitive function at baseline and at the end of the study period.

Participants with the highest plasma concentration of alpha-carotene were found to have significantly higher global cognitive and semantic memory scores. Global cognition refers to the overall ability of a person to function in their everyday activities. Semantic memory is long-term memory that involves the recollection of ideas, concepts and facts commonly regarded as general knowledge.

In addition, participants with the highest plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene had significantly higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, and lower intakes of meat, butter, and fried foods.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center. It was published online ahead of print on August 21, 2021 in the Journal of Nutritional Science.

Bacopa monnieri was found to help improve cognitive functioning in a previous study.

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