Effects of 12-week avocado consumption on cognitive function among adults with overweight and obesity

Int J Psychophysiol. 2020 Feb;148:13-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.12.006. Epub 2019 Dec 14.


Objectives: Excess adiposity increases risk for cognitive impairment. Consumption of avocado, a highly bioavailable source of the xanthophyll lutein, has been shown to improve retinal lutein accumulation and cognitive function. Thus, we evaluated the influence of avocado consumption on cognitive function and lutein status among adults with overweight and obesity using a randomized-controlled trial with matching design for pertinent study outcomes.

Methods: A cohort of 84 adults (25-45 years, 31 males) were randomized to a treatment group (N = 47) that received a 12-week daily meal with fresh Hass avocado or a control group (N = 37) that received an isocaloric meal (clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02740439). Serum lutein and macular pigment optical density (MPOD) were used to assess xanthophyll status. Attention and inhibition were assessed using the Flanker, Oddball and Nogo tasks with accompanying electroencephalographic (EEG) recording.

Results: Participants in the treatment group exhibited improvements in serum lutein and accuracy in the Flanker task. However, there were no relationships between performance and changes in lutein status, nor neuroelectric variables. No significant changes in MPOD were observed.

Conclusion: Daily avocado intake over 12 weeks, after controlling for covariates, improved attentional inhibition and increased serum lutein concentrations among adults with overweight and obesity. However, the cognitive benefits were independent of changes in lutein concentrations. Additional work is necessary to determine non-carotenoid, or carotenoid interactive, mechanisms by which avocados may influence cognitive function.

Keywords: Attention; Carotenoids; Event-related potential; N2; Obesity; P3; Xanthophyll.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Lutein / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Overweight / diet therapy*
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Persea*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Xanthophylls / metabolism


  • Xanthophylls
  • Lutein

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02740439