16/10/2010 04:16 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Want A Better Brain? Chew On A Carrot

If you're getting a bit forgetful or your memory's just not as sharp as it used to be, you may think it's simply something that happens as you get older. But eating carrots may help, say researchers writing in the Journal of Nutrition.

MorgueFile, frenchbyte

Well not just carrots but olive oil too. Plus peppers, celery, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile - all of which contain a plant compound called luteolin. Eating a diet that includes plenty of luteolin may reduce the inflammation in the brain that experts believe is a natural effect of getting older - and also the culprit behind the development of memory problems.

At least that's what happens in mice.

The researchers took older mice who had higher levels of inflammation in their brains and fed them a diet rich in luteolin. After just four weeks the mice performed better in learning and memory tests than other mice of the same age who had been eating other foods. The experts also found the mice eating the luteolin-rich diet had levels of inflammation in their brains that corresponded with that of much younger mice - specifically a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved in memory.

Luteolin, say the experts, may stop the release of inflammation-causing molecules in the brain. In lab tests, they also showed luteolin protects neurons in the brain against damaging toxins too.

Of course it all hinges on whether or not the same thing applies in humans, but the researchers are confident they're onto something.

Does your brain work better when you eat healthily?

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