A new study published in the journal Neurology argues that the daily habit of drinking orange juice reduces the chances of dementia considerably. Scientists already know that fruits and vegetables help protect the brain, as they contain a lot of nutrients including vitamins and antioxidants. Dementia is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of brain problems causing memory loss and impaired cognitive functions over a long period of time. These include Alzheimer’s disease (the cause of more than 60 percent of dementia), vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia (causing 25 and 15 percent of dementia respectively). In severe cases, it the loss of memory and cognitive power affect the patient’s daily activities. Since there is no cure for the condition so far, trying to prevent the onset of the condition is a major concern among the health workers in the field.
The study, conducted by a team led by Changzheng Yuan of Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, analyzed the records of about 28,000 men in the US, tracking their consumption of fruit and vegetables from 1986 to 2002. The data was then made to correspond with their cognitive and memory functions over three decades. The study found that men who were in the habit of taking one small glass of orange juice every day had 47 percent fewer chances of developing dementia-related problems than those who did not do so. Also, those who were in the habit of consuming more vegetables had lesser chances (34 percent) of developing the problems.
Changzheng Yuan observed that one major advantage of the project was that the team was able to track the food habits of such a large number of men over a 20-year period. Data was collected from men when they were 51 years old onwards. The findings clearly establish that the habit of consuming more vegetables helped the men to preserve their cognitive functions more successfully than men whose consumption levels of fruit and vegetables were lower. The study also found that only 6.9 percent of men who took orange juice daily developed cognitive problems later.