Millennials could be considered brand ambassadors for avocados, and with good reason. This celebrity chef–approved fruit is known for its array of health benefits, from reducing bad cholesterol to protecting our eyesight, plus it's packed with omega-3 amino acids, healthy fats, and vitamins that can support everything from our hearts to our hair. Now, scientists have revealed yet another health-enhancing reason to add avocado to your diet.
In a study conducted by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers measured the brain activity and levels of lutein (a carotenoid that helps protect our brains) of 60 people between the ages of 25 to 45 as they performed attention-heavy tasks, Men's Health reports. Found in avocados, eggs, and leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, lutein can only be acquired through the foods we eat and has been known to act as an anti-inflammatory, which may help boost our brain function. On that note, the study concluded that older participants with higher levels of lutein showed neural responses that matched that of the younger subjects with lower levels of lutein.
“As people get older, they experience typical [cognitive] decline," according to postdoctoral scholar Anne Walk, the first author of the paper. "However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s … if lutein can protect against [cognitive] decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit," she says.
As Men's Health points out, it's worth noting that the study was funded by the Haas Avocado Board (however, the findings were subject to a peer review), and the researchers were unable to prove a clear link between higher lutein and increased boost in attention and cognitive activity. Although the study's team is in the process of running additional tests to determine the connection, you can bet we'll be playing it safe by adding a healthy serving of avocado to our routine.
Up next: Find out the best way to keep avocados fresh.