Boost brain power with oats

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Researchers at UniSA’s Nutritional Physiology Research Centre are investigating whether an oat extract can improve cognitive performance in older adults.

Research Professor Peter Howe said while the physical health benefits of oats were well known, there was growing interest in how oats could improve mental health.

“With the proportion of Australia’s ageing population set to increase over the next several decades, mental disability through age-related cognitive decline looms as a major public health problem with enormous economic and social impact,” he said.

“In recent years, there has been growing interest in the use of foods to enhance cognition.

“We’re embarking on a study to look more closely at how an extract of wild green oats can potentially improve cognitive performance in older adults, especially when under duress.”

Dr Janet Bryan from UniSA’s School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy has worked extensively in the field of cognitive ageing and nutrition and is lead researcher for the study.

“Although the level of evidence for this extract is still fairly basic, we have preliminary data which shows improved responses to a cognitive test which measures attention and concentration in human volunteers and we would like to further explore this benefit,” Dr Bryan said.

“Oats and oat extracts have long been recognised for their health properties. Green oat preparations have been used to combat fatigue, irritable mood and poor concentration for hundreds of years. Wild green oats contain certain bioactive nutrients which may assist in improving blood flow in the brain, which in turn may help with attention and concentration.”

Researchers are seeking volunteers to participate in the study.

“We are looking for healthy men and women over the age of 60 to take part in this 24-week study,” Dr Bryan said.

“Suitable volunteers will be required to come into UniSA’s City East campus for three two-hour visits where they will undertake a series of physiological and cognitive tests.”

Volunteers will be screened to check that they are eligible prior to enrolment into the study. If eligible, volunteers will be required to consume a dietary supplement daily for 24 weeks.

“Participants will be making a valuable contribution to scientific knowledge and promotion of healthy ageing. To assist with travel costs, volunteers will receive an honorarium upon completion of the study,” Dr Bryan said.

Source: University of South Australia, Australia

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