Vegetables, not fruit, help fight memory problems in old age

October 23, 2006

Eating vegetables, not fruit, helps slow down the rate of cognitive change in older adults, according to a study published in the October 24, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

In determining whether there was an association between vegetables, fruit and cognitive decline, researchers from Rush University Medical Center studied 3,718 residents in Chicago, Illinois, who were age 65 and older. Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire and received at least two cognitive tests over a six-year period.

"Compared to people who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day saw their rate of cognitive change slow by roughly 40 percent, said study author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, associate professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. "This decrease is equivalent to about 5 years of younger age."

Of the different types of vegetables consumed by participants, green leafy vegetables had the strongest association to slowing the rate of cognitive decline. The study also found the older the person, the greater the slowdown in the rate of cognitive decline if that person consumed more than two servings of vegetables a day. Surprisingly, the study found fruit consumption was not associated with cognitive change.

"This was unanticipated and raises several questions," said Morris. "It may be due to vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin E, which helps lowers the risk of cognitive decline. Vegetables, but not fruits, are also typically consumed with added fats such as salad dressings, and fats increase the absorption of vitamin E. Further study is required to understand why fruit is not associated with cognitive change."

Morris says the study's findings can be used to simplify public health messages by saying people should eat more or less of foods in a specific food group, not necessarily more or less of individual foods.

Source: Rush University Medical Center

Explore further: Blueberries may improve attention in children following double-blind trial

Related Stories

Blueberries may improve attention in children following double-blind trial

October 13, 2017
Primary school children could show better attention by consuming flavonoid-rich blueberries, following a study conducted by the University of Reading.

New review suggests drinking 100 percent fruit juice may offer disease-fighting benefits

April 11, 2011
Drinking 100 percent fruit juices could have protective health benefits similar to those of whole fruits, according to research presented in a literature review yesterday at the 2011 Experimental Biology (EB) meeting.

Research confirms Mediterranean diet is good for the mind

September 3, 2013
The first systematic review of related research confirms a positive impact on cognitive function, but an inconsistent effect on mild cognitive impairment

Age-proof diet for longevity

February 28, 2013
By studying the molecular mechanism of food nutrients from a Mediterranean diet in an elderly population, scientists hope to help countering their physical and mental decline.

Researchers study connection between cholesterol level and cognitive decline in old age

October 27, 2015
Changes in lifestyle could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. That was the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers of Heidelberg University's Network Aging Research (NAR), who examined the data from ...

Healthy behaviors in midlife significantly increase odds of successful aging

October 22, 2012
Engaging in a combination of healthy behaviours, such as not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables daily makes it significantly more likely people will stay healthy as they age, ...

Recommended for you

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.