Greens May Be Good for Memory

We frequently write about how great fruit and vegetables are for blood sugar. A study with almost 28,000 men has shown that they might also lower your risk of memory loss. The study followed the men who worked in the medical field for 26 years, checking in with them ever four years. The research began in 1986 when most of the men were 51-years-old. The participants filled out very detailed surveys about their diet. Later in the study, they also took tests to discover if they had seen a decline in their memory or cognitive skills.

The researchers saw that men who ate six or more servings of fruit or veggies a day were less likely to develop memory or thinking problems than men who ate two or less. The researchers believed the difference in cognitive health might lie in the nutrients in fruit and vegetables. The plants we eat contain many things — vitamins A, B, C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols and more. This might lower oxidative stress in the brain and therefore lessen an individual’s risks.

The foods that showed the most significant impact came from leafy greens, red and dark orange vegetables, berries and — interestingly — orange juice. While we talk about the dangers of juice being so high in sugar and low in fiber, the nutrients it contains may help the brain according to this research. Daily orange juice drinkers were 47 percent less likely to have cognitive decline than the men who ate less than two servings. The juice drinkers had the best results out of the whole study. That is not to say that taking up a juice habit will help your memory. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet if you have blood sugar or other health concerns. Men who ate six servings of fruit a day were 34 percent less likely to develop memory problems than the men in the worst group.

"Our studies," said first author Dr. Changzheng Yuan, to Medical News Today, "provide further evidence [that] dietary choices can be important to maintain your brain health."

The tests that they gave to the subjects allowed the men to gauge themselves. By repeating the test over the years, researchers could identify patterns to see mild cognitive impairment developing, which often precedes Alzheimer’s. The research doesn’t show a cause and effect — eating that diet and having a healthy brain might be correlation, not causation. But it does point to diet being important in health as we age.

Diet and lifestyle impact our health so much that it is unsurprising that diet has an impact on the brain but the weight of the effect — 47 percent reduction of risk — is impressive. So, today might be the day to start eating salad or at least a piece of fruit!

March 27, 2019
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