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Did you know certain foods help protect against cognitive decline? Specifically, new research* has put the spotlight on lutein containing foods for their possible positive impact on cognitive aging!

Lutein is a carotenoid found in bright coloured fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body and are protective against chronic disease. We must obtain lutein from the diet, as our body cannot make its own supply. You may be familiar with lutein for its association with reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Interestingly also, lutein is found in brain tissue and is linked to better cognitive function in older adults. Specifically, the research* referred to above suggests age-related cognitive decline may be lessened by greater intake of lutein containing foods.

If looking to add more lutein to your day, below is a list of foods rich in lutein:

  • Egg yolk
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Nasturtium leaves
  • Spirulina
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Avocado

Lutein is fat-soluble; this means it is best absorbed when eaten alongside a source of fat. Good sources of fat include extra virgin olive oil, tahini paste, raw nuts and seeds and avocado. Furthermore, overcooking food will significantly reduce the lutein content.

Here are some easy ways to add more to sources of lutein to your day:

  • Add spinach leaves and spirulina to smoothies
  • Finely chop kale, parsley and cherry tomatoes and toss together with olive oil, lemon juice, pinch of sumac, salt and pepper as a quick tabouli
  • Toss chopped kale into stir-fry’s right before taking off the heat
  • Add raw finely chopped broccoli to homemade hummus or pesto
  • Swap margarine for avocado on sandwich’s, wraps and toast
  • Blend avocado with herbs and nuts for a creamy pasta dressing
  • Blend 1 cup of cooked peas with a few tablespoons of coconut milk and ground ginger and serve as a puree with fish, lamb or chicken
  • As a light dinner serve stir-fried chicken or prawns in lettuce cups

Warm soba noodle, kale and crispy tofu salad with tahini miso dressing

A warming and simple recipe using lutein rich kale!

Serves 4-6

Time: 35mins

Ingredients

1/2 packet soba noodles
½ bunch kale, shredded finely
½ cup walnuts, chopped finely
1 large carrot, cut into ribbons
1 block hard tofu, cut into strips
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Dressing
½ cup unhulled tahini
Water, as needed
¼ cup miso paste
1-2 tsp. honey
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Topping
½ bunch coriander, chopped finely
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Method

Blend the tahini, miso, garlic and lemon in a food processor until well combined, adding enough water as needed to create a pouring consistency. Taste for seasoning, set aside.

Cook soba noodles according to packet directions, rinse under cold water.

In a bowl combine shredded kale, walnuts and carrot. Add cooked soba to the bowl whilst still warm and combine well. Pour half the dressing over the salad mix and toss well.

Heat a frying pan with oil over medium-high heat, pan-fry tofu until crispy on each side, set aside on paper towel.

Serve salad topped with tofu, extra drizzle of tahini dressing, coriander and toasted sesame seeds.

Reference

*Walk, A et al 2017, ‘The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults,’ Front Aging Neurosci, Vol. 9, pp. 183.