New research further confirms a link between higher lutein levels (as measured in the blood) and the preservation of "crystallized intelligence" in older adults. Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime. Lutein is in foods such as leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage) and egg yolks. Lutein is also found in small amounts in other fruits and vegetables. Bottom line: eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. [Original study.]Medical Xpress:
A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of "crystallized intelligence," the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime.
Lutein (LOO-teen) is one of several plant pigments that humans acquire through the diet, primarily by eating leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, or egg yolks, said University of Illinois graduate student Marta Zamroziewicz, who led the study with Illinois psychology professor Aron Barbey. Lutein accumulates in the brain, embedding in cell membranes, where it likely plays "a neuroprotective role," she said. "Previous studies have found that a person's lutein status is linked to cognitive performance across the lifespan," Zamroziewicz said.
The study enrolled 122 healthy participants aged 65 to 75 who solved problems and answered questions on a standard test of crystallized intelligence. Researchers also collected blood samples to determine blood serum levels of lutein and imaged participants' brains using MRI to measure the volume of different brain structures. The team focused on parts of the temporal cortex, a brain region that other studies suggest plays a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence.
The researchers found that participants with higher blood serum levels of lutein tended to do better on tests of crystallized intelligence. Serum lutein levels reflect only recent dietary intakes, Zamroziewicz said, but are associated with brain concentrations of lutein in older adults, which reflect long-term dietary intake. Those with higher serum lutein levels also tended to have thicker gray matter in the parahippocampal cortex, a brain region that, like crystallized intelligence, is preserved in healthy aging, the researchers report..... "Our findings do not demonstrate causality," Zamroziewicz said. "We did find that lutein is linked to crystallized intelligence through the parahippocampal cortex."