A nutrient found in spinach and eggs could help sharpen reflexes and therefore improve road safety.

So says a team of researchers from Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam, who conducted a study on the impact of intake of tyrosine, a nutrient found in foods including spinach, eggs, cheese and soy.

For their research, scientists tested the reaction times of participants on a computer screen. Whenever a green arrow appeared, they were instructed to press the corresponding button as quickly as possible. Buttons had to match direction of the arrow -- either left or right. When a red arrow appeared, participants were instructed to do nothing.

Sessions were divided into two tests: on one occasion, participants were given a tyrosine-enriched orange juice before the task, and on the other, a glass of orange juice that contained a placebo.

Results showed that candidates showed improved reflexes after drinking the orange juice with tyrosine.

Researchers hypothesize that increased intake of tyrosine-rich foods and supplements could have implications on road safety, improving drivers’ reaction times to braking for children or pile-ups.

Low levels of tyrosine are also linked to lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can lead to depression and apathy. 

The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

The research comes from the same university that published a study on the psychological effects of tryptophan, also found in soy, eggs and spinach in addition to fish. The paper theorized that the amino acid increased people’s levels of trust in one another.

Watch a video presentation of the study and how tyrosine works at http://bit.ly/1jKsEkw.