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

Oct 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: Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Videogame power harnessed for positive goals

Mar 17, 2013

Even as videogames come under scrutiny for potential harmful impacts, researchers and developers are touting digital games for positive effects on health, learning and other social goals.

Genes help worms decide where to dine

May 19, 2011

In the famous song by The Clash, "Should I Stay or Should I Go," the lyrics wrestle with one of the more complicated decisions people make -- whether to end a difficult love affair or try to make it work. We aren’t likely ...

Recommended for you

Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

17 minutes ago

Just a handful of people had registered by midday Wednesday to be private growers of marijuana in Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize the production, sale and distribution of the drug.

Tracking spending among the commercially insured

10 hours ago

Recent growth in health care spending for commercially insured individuals is due primarily to increases in prices for medical services, rather than increased use, according to a new study led by researchers at The Dartmouth ...

Taking aim at added sugars to improve Americans' health

14 hours ago

Now that health advocates' campaigns against trans-fats have largely succeeded in sidelining the use of the additive, they're taking aim at sugar for its potential contributions to Americans' health conditions. But scientists ...

User comments : 0