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Eating Fruits and Vegetables May Help Slow Memory Loss in Men

Memory loss is common later in life, but there may be steps people can take to slow it down. A recent study suggests that consuming orange juice, leafy greens, and berries may help decrease memory loss in men.


Participants in the study included 27,842 men with an average age of 51 who were all health professionals. At the beginning of the study, the participants filled out questionnaires regarding how many servings of fruits, vegetables, and other foods they ate each day, and then completed one every four years for 20 years.



The participants also took subjective tests of their thinking and memory skills in 2008 and in 2012. The researchers found that 55% of the participants had good thinking and memory skills, 38% had moderate skills, and 7% had poor thinking and memory skills.


The researchers divided the participants into five groups, based on their fruit and vegetable consumption. The group that ate the highest amount of vegetables ate six servings per day, compared with two servings in the lowest group. The group that ate the highest amount of fruits ate three servings per day, compared with half a serving for the bottom group.


At the end of the study, the researchers found that the participants who ate the most vegetables were 34% less likely to develop poor thinking skills and memory compared to those who ate the least. In total, 6.6% of the men in the highest consumption group developed poor cognitive function, compared with 7.9% of men in the bottom group.


When the researchers examined fruit consumption, they found that the participants who drank orange juice every day were 47% less likely to develop poor thinking skills and memory than those who drank less than one serving per month. This held true particularly for the oldest men. In total, 6.9% of the participants who drank orange juice every day developed poor cognitive function, compared to 8.4% of the participants who drank orange juice less than once a month.


Finally, the researchers found that people who ate more fruits and vegetables at the onset of the study — 20 years previous — were less likely to develop thinking and memory problems overall, whether or not they continued to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables.


Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health led the study. It was published online ahead of print on November 21, 2018, in Neurology.


If you’re trying to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, it’s important to know how to measure them. A serving is defined as one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or half a cup of chopped or cooked fruits. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can be as simple as grabbing an apple as a snack or making sure you have a fruit or vegetable at every meal.

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