The colorful key to protecting your precious memories

I remember those old black-and-white shows from the early days of TV.

Some of them are still on in reruns, if you know where to look.

It's funny how quickly you adjust to their old-fashioned look while you're watching them -- that is, until the commercials come on in blazing color.

In an instant, you realize just how much of the picture you've been missing without those bright hues.

Your dinner plate's a lot like those old TV shows.

If it's not bright and colorful, the latest science shows how you're missing out on a BIG part of the nutritional picture, especially when it comes to one of the most important functions of all: your memory.

According to new research, two antioxidants that give many leafy vegetables their distinctive colors also play an essential role in your brain.

In this study, seniors were tested for the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Then, they were given memory tests while connected to special MRI machines that allowed scientists to watch their brains live, in real-time, as the patients attempted to answer the questions.

Most of them handled all the questions just fine, whether their levels of these nutrients were high or low.

But that's not the whole story. There were some immediate differences in the brains of those seniors as they took the tests.

Folks with low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin struggled. Their brains used more power, even when they got the questions right.

More power might sound good, but it's really not. It's like hitting the gas on your car, flooring the pedal, just to reach normal speeds.

Folks with high levels of those nutrients, on the other hand, handled the test with ease. They barely had to tap the pedal to go flying down the neural highway -- because they needed very little brainpower to solve the questions.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to raise your levels of these two great nutrients.

The best natural sources are greens, especially kale, spinach, and Swiss chard. You'll also find them in lower amounts in peas, broccoli, and lettuce.

If you eat a lot of salads with mixed greens, you're probably getting a fair amount of lutein and zeaxanthin.

But if you're a little older, you may want more than you can get from diet alone -- because higher levels of these two nutrients can also protect you from macular degeneration and other vision problems.

So, consider a supplement. You'll find both nutrients at the heart of most blends aimed at eye health.