Lutein Rich Avocados Linked to Enhanced Brain Function
Previous studies have found that increased lutein levels in the macula and the brain are related to improved cognitive function. Avocados are rich in lutein and a recent study suggests that eating avocados may help increase lutein levels, improve attention, working memory, and problem solving.
Participants in the study included 20 healthy men and women who were given either one avocado or one potato and a cup of chickpeas daily for six months. Avocados contain approximately 0.5 mg of lutein.
At the conclusion of the study, the avocado group had a 25% increase in serum lutein levels, compared with a 15% increase in the potato/chickpea group. Both groups had increases in memory and spatial working memory, but only the avocado group had increases in macular pigment density and sustained attention. Macular pigment density is a biomarker of brain lutein.
The researchers also found that macular pigment density increases in the avocado group were correlated with improvements in working memory and efficiency in approaching a problem.
Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center in Aging at Tufts University conducted the study. It was published on August 23, 2017, in the journal Nutrients.
Lutein is one of only two carotenoids that can build macular pigment. Lutein creates the yellow pigmentation of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides protection from damaging blue light. If the yellow macular pigment is too thin, blue light can penetrate the retina and cause long-term damage. Previous studies also suggest that lutein may improve eye health, combat systemic inflammation, and ward off cataracts.
You can increase your lutein levels by consuming more green vegetables, corn, avocados, and egg yolk. It can also be taken in supplement form.