Eggs, soybeans, beans and broccoli, what do they have in common? At first glance, one would say nothing, but in reality these foods are a precious source of choline, or vitamin J, which is proving to be a truly essential nutrient for our health. In fact, as demonstrated by very recent scientific research, following a diet low in choline increases the possibility of becoming overweight and obese and of developing heart, liver and brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's. The study was published in the journal Aging Cell by an American team from Arizona State University (Dave et al, Aging Cell, 2023).
Choline or vitamin J, what it is and where it is contained
Choline is often referred to as vitamin J. It is a substance synthesized in small quantities by the liver and present in foods such as eggs, poultry, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, soy and beans. It is estimated that 90% of Americans do not guarantee, through the diet, the minimum sufficient quantity of choline, which, in any case, should be revised upwards as the guidelines indicate the quantity of choline sufficient to prevent only the condition of fatty liver. While, as stated by the authors of the study we are discussing today, greater quantities of choline also protect the brain from the risk of neurodegeneration. But let's try to understand better.
Choline and health, the study
In order to understand the action of choline taken with the diet for healthy and disease-free ageing, American scientists carried out the study we are talking about today. The research was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice. The mice ate a choline-restricted diet, and by the end of the experiment, they all had liver damage, heart problems such as an enlarged heart, weight gain, blood sugar changes, difficulty moving and brain changes typical of Alzheimer's disease, such as increase in toxic aggregates of amyloid beta and tau proteins. To demonstrate that what was observed can be traced back to the choline-poor diet, these effects are the same observed in mice genetically modified to present a choline deficiency.
The article highlights the importance of following a healthy and varied diet, which also includes foods that contain choline, such as beans, peas, soy, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dried fruit and eggs. In this way it is possible to protect the heart, liver and brain, counteract diabetes and neurodegeneration. Additionally, choline helps lower homocysteine, which is a neurotoxic amino acid, and supports functions such as memory and learning.