Jose De La O Arechiga, “Antioxidant Rich Diets Are Associated with Increased Verbal Fluency in Young Adults”
Mentors: Krista Lisdahl & Ashley Stinson, Psychology
Research shows that high antioxidant (e.g., vitamin E and beta-carotene) diets are associated with superior performance on verbal fluency and verbal learning tasks. Studies have found that an antioxidant rich diet is related to some cognitive improvements in verbal cognition. However, studies have primarily focused on how nutrition relates to cognition in older adults, and little is known about whether an antioxidant rich diet is related to cognitive performance in adolescents and young adults. The current study aims to investigate how self-reported recent consumption of antioxidant rich diet (foods containing vitamin C, E and beta-carotene) relate to verbal cognitive performance in teens and young adults. The sample included 95 participants aged 16-25 (44% female, 65% white). The Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Assessment Tool was administered to assess participant’s food intake within the last 24 hours. Separate hierarchical regressions were conducted to evaluate whether levels of vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene (Step 2) significantly predicted performance on verbal fluency and learning after accounting for age, sex, and race (Step 1). Results showed in step 1 that together sex, race, and age were significantly associated with verbal fluency, R2 = 0.089, F (3, 91) = 2.975, p = 0.036. After accounting for demographic variables, vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene were significantly related to verbal fluency, ΔR2 = .067, Fchange(6, 88) = 2.72, p = 0.018. Antioxidant diet was not significantly associated with initial verbal learning at step 1 (R2 = .012, F (3, 91) = .376) or 2 (ΔR2 = 0.106, Fchange(6, 88) = 1.964). Consistent with prior studies in older adults, higher intake of antioxidant-rich food was significantly associated with superior performance in verbal fluency in adolescents and young adults. Future studies should consider how other measures of health, such as aerobic fitness, influence the relationship between nutrition and cognitive performance.
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