As part of this long series focusing on cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, we now arrive at the produce aisle of your local supermarket. Food cures abound in the fruit and vegetable section, and people with dementia could benefit from adding them to their diets. There is burgeoning evidence that antioxidants, mainly from the diet, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
It has been known for many years that the most abundant dietary antioxidants don’t come from vitamins — but from non-vitamin polyphenols. These exist to a large extent in the peel and pulp of fruits and vegetables. Wine, juices and tea are also major sources of polyphenols.
In a study conducted in France, a total of 2,533 individuals aged 45 to 60 years were followed for 13 years. Periodically, researchers assessed both dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables and cognitive functions.). This telling study found that verbal memory was linked with diets including fruits and vegetables, fruit alone, vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables, vitamin C, or vitamin E. Poorer
executive functions were related to a diet of fruits and vegetables, vegetables alone, or beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables. Executive functions are mental processes involved in remembering details, managing time and space, and organizing, planning or strategizing. Overall, the amount of fruit a person ate had stronger effects on the mind than intake of vegetables. One reason: antioxidants are better preserved in fruit than in vegetables.
Here is what I think. The different effects of fruits and vegetables on various aspects of memory require further confirmation. Also, the subjects in this study were originally recruited for a randomized controlled trial and were therefore more health conscious.
Nonetheless, the majority of studies on this topic support the notion that high intake of fruits and vegetables
–especially green leafy vegetables with more vitamin E thanothers
— starting at midlife may delay the onset of age-related cognitive impairment.
Read my previous article in this series: