How This Underestimated Source Of Nutrition Can Improve Women’s Quality Of Life

The average lifespan for women in the US is higher than that of men (81 vs 77 years old, respectively). However, women have a higher rate of chronic health problems like arthritis, mental conditions, headaches, neck pain, back pain, and other conditions. A new study by University of Georgia researchers has found, however, that nutrition could be the answer to helping women enjoy a better quality of life.

Pigmented Carotenoids Hold the Key

If nutrition is a subject of fascination for you, then read up on carotenoids. The researchers found that women can reduce their rates of illness by consuming foods containing pigmented carotenoids like spinach, watermelon, kale, yams, bell peppers, tomatoes, and carrots. These foods are brightly hued, and they are particularly important for boosting visual and cognitive health. Lead researcher, Billy R. Hammon, stated that although men get many diseases that cause mortality, women can “soldier on” while battling diseases that are not life-threatening yet definitely debilitating. For instance, two-thirds of existing macular degeneration and dementia cases are made up of women. Yet these very conditions can be staved off by following a healthy diet.

How Does Gender Affect Nutrient Storage?

Women store vitamins and minerals differently from men. Women in general have more body fat than men. Body fat serves as a kind of reservoir of nutrients during pregnancy. However, these nutrients can be less available to the brain and retina, causing a higher risk of degenerative issues. 

Why Are Carotenoids So Important?

Carotenoids are antioxidants that can keep disease at bay and enhance the immune system. There are only three carotenoids found in the eye: lutein and two types of zeaxanthin. They protect the macular and are crucial to good eye health, but the body cannot synthesize these compounds itself. Macular carotenoids absorb high-energy blue light, thereby protecting the eyes of those exposed to screens for various hours. Lutein and zeaxanthin are able to cross the blood-brain barrier—a fact that enables them to accumulate in the macular and the brain. Studies have also shown that dietary carotenoids are linked to better cognitive performance. In other words, they are linked to better learning, thinking, remembering problem-solving, concentrating, decision-making, and reasoning.

Which Foods Contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin?

To boost your eye health and cognitive functioning, you can source lutein and zeaxanthin from a wide array of foods. These include leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach, as well as pistachios and green peas. Egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes also contain an abundant supply of both nutrients.

Women, as a rule, live longer than men. However, this does not mean that their quality of life is as good as it could be. Health issues such as dementia and macular degeneration can limit their ability to feel good and engage in a myriad of activities. A recent study has shown that carotenoids—in particular, lutein and zeaxanthin, can help add life to one’s years by boosting both eye and cognitive health in women.

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