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Leafy Greens, Berries and Orange Juice May Protect Against Memory Loss

Fruits, Leafy Greens, Red & Yellow Vegetables Promote Brain Health

A study published November 21, 2018 in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, showed that men who ate generous amounts of leafy greens, dark orange and red vegetables, berries and orange juice had better cognitive function and protection against memory loss compared to men who consumed these foods in smaller amounts.

Study Included Large Group of Men over a 20 Year Period

Participants in the study were 27,842 men around age 51 at the beginning of the study, who were followed for 20 years until they were about  age 78.

The lead author of the study, Changzhen Yuan of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said they were fortunate to have such a large number of men for the study and the results showed evidence that brain health can be influenced by dietary choices.

Method of the Study

Participants had to fill out questionnaires at the beginning of the study and also every four years giving information about the amounts of fruits, vegetables and other kinds of food they ate on a daily basis. A cup of fruit or ½ cup of juice was considered to be a serving of fruit. A cup of raw vegetables or two cups of leafy greens was considered to be a vegetable serving.

The participants were organized into five different groups depending on the amounts of fruits and vegetables they ate:

The Vegetable Groups

Those that ate six servings a day of vegetables were in the highest group of vegetable eaters, while those that ate only two servings a day of vegetables were in the lowest group. Those men who ate the most vegetables had a 34% lower chance to develop poor thinking skills than those who ate the smallest amount of vegetables.

The Fruit Groups

Those that ate a total of three servings of fruit a day were the highest group, while those who ate only half a serving a day of fruit were in the lowest group. The men who drank orange juice on a daily basis had a 47% lower chance to develop poor thinking skills then the men who drank less than one serving a month of orange juice.

Six Questions to Test Memory Skills and Cognitive Function

The participants, who were all healthcare professionals like optometrists, dentists and veterinarians had to take subjective thinking and memory skills tests around the age of 73, at least four years before the end of the study. Two of the six questions asked in these tests were:

Do you have more trouble than usual remembering a short list of items, such as a shopping list?

Do you have more trouble than usual following a group conversation or a plot in a TV program due to your memory?

Results of the Memory and Cognitive Function Tests

The results of the memory skills and cognitive function tests showed:

55% – good memory and thinking skills

38% – moderate memory and thinking skills

7 % – poor memory and thinking skills

Summation of the Study

While there was a positive association between consuming fruits, vegetables and orange juice with good cognitive function, nonetheless it cannot be proven by this study that eating fruits and vegetables can definitely prevent memory loss.  Interestingly, those men who had consumed larger amounts of fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the study were less likely to develop memory and thinking problems whether or not they were still eating them in the same amounts about six years before the memory test.

Brain and Life Organization

To learn more about brain health and neurologic disease, see the American Academy of Neurology’s free Brain and Life online magazine for patients and caregivers.

Neurological Rehabilitation and Cognitive Rehabilitation

If you or your loved one are in need of neurologic rehabilitation, including cognitive rehabilitation, the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York, offers expertise neurological rehabilitation, including cognitive rehabilitation. They also offer post stroke rehabilitation. Their integrative therapy programs also offer music and pet therapy.

Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care

New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)

SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

Maimonides Medical Center


This strong association between eating fruits, vegetables and orange juice and good memory function is a good reason to include them in our diets.



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