Avocado: Neuroprotective food?
Avocado and its lutein. Lutein is a pigment that exists naturally in plants, vegetables and fruits, finding its importance in protecting against the sun’s rays and it has been scientifically proven that the consumption of lutein has other benefits for people who consume it.
From MANCATE, we open our blog, a forum in which we try to provide information and rigor regarding the different nutritional properties of tropical fruits. The goal is to be an information forum and open to all your comments. Come to share your opinion, and tell us if the article has been to your liking. Thank you for participating!
The first topic is: Is avocado a neuroprotective food?
To introduce this topic, it is key to initially talk about Lutein. Lutein is a yellowish substance (pigment), very present in algae, bacteria and plants and whose function is to protect against the sun.
In humans, lutein forms part of the retina, thus protecting us from the sun’s rays and reducing the likelihood of the appearance of eye-related diseases. It also appears to have brain function, as concentration in the brain of infants is higher than concentration in the brain of elderly people, so it is assumed to have a role in memory, reasoning, and attention. (1)(2).
Where is lutein present?
In a wide variety of foods, being the king the carrot (the well-known carrot is good for the eyes), asparagus, peas, spinach, lettuce, blueberries, plum, pear, apple, orange and avocados.
Is there a relationship between lutein and cognitive effects?
In August 2017, a study (3) was published in Tufts, USA, in which the relationship (avocado consumer vs improve cognitive function) was evidenced in adults with an average age of about 63 years.
Those who consumed avocados improved lutein levels in the eyes by 25% and an improvement in short-term memory, in addition to increasing the ability to solve problems (due to the increase in lutein levels in the brain and the increase in its bioavailability), suggesting that the introduction of avocado into the diet of older people could be a strategy to value with respect to Healthy eating.
A more recent study, from February 2020 (4), published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, evaluates the intake of an avocado in its diet, for 12 months, in people with overweight and obesity, and its possible effect on mental abilities (using different cognitive tests) with better results in the group taking avocados vs control group. In addition, lutein levels in blood and brain were higher in the avocado-consuming group.
It seems likely that the beneficial effect produced by avocado is due to the set of nutrients, not only to lutein. That is why even more long-term studies need to be conducted to obtain more information.
What is clear, is that a balanced diet, varied and rich in all nutrients is essential for a good development, growth and reach "maturity" at the best level of health. And to do this, healthy food, or whatever you prefer to call it, is a fundamental pillar.
Plasma Concentrations of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Macular Pigment Optical Density, and Their Associations With Cognitive Performances Among Older Adults.
Investigative Olphthalmologhy & Visual Science April 2018.
Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.
Nutrients 2017, 9(9), 919
The Macular Carotenoid are associated with Cognitive Function in preadolescent children
Effects of 12-week avocado cnsumption on cognitive function among adults with overweight and obesity.
International Journal of Psychophysiology vol. 148, February 2020, Pages 13-24.