(Natural News) For men who want to keep their minds sharp as they grow older, Harvard researchers have a healthy diet plan just for you. They recently found that the chances of losing memories over time went down if a man consumed leafy greens, vegetables and berries of certain colors, and orange juice.
“One of the most important factors in this study is that we were able to research and track such a large group of men over a 20-year period of time, allowing for very telling results,” stated Changzheng Yuan in his capacity as the author of the study paper. He added that his findings support the benefits of healthy diet choices for the brain.
Yuan and his team evaluated nearly 28,000 male health professionals. The average age of the participants was 51. (Related: Read this first BEFORE you buy pre-washed vegetables.)
Twenty-year-long test evaluated the amount of healthy foods consumed by health professionals
In the first part of the study, participants answered questions about the number of servings of certain foods that they consumed on a daily basis. Each participant did this on the first day and during follow-up sessions every four years. The trial period lasted 20 years in total.
The definition of a serving changed according to the food in question. A cup of fruit (including berries), half a cup of fruit juice, one cup or raw vegetables, and two cups of leafy greens are counted as a single serving.
At least four years before the conclusion of the trial, the participants took tests that evaluated their thinking and memory skills. These subjective exams looked for changes in the memories of a person that can be noticed without the need for an objective cognitive test.
These changes are considered to be the prelude to mild cognitive impairment. At that point in the study, the participants had reached an average age of 73.
Wash all of those veggies and fruits down with orange juice
Based on their daily consumption of fruits or vegetables, the participants fell into one of five groups. The highest group for vegetables ate six servings, while their counterpart group for fruits reported eating three servings. The lowest groups, on the other hand, had only two servings for vegetables and half a serving for fruits each day.
The participants in the highest group of vegetable consumption showed much better thinking skills (34 percent higher) than the lowest group. They also exhibited higher cognitive function, with only 6.6 percent suffering from cognitive degradation.
Consumption of orange juice produced similar effects. Men who drank at least one serving of juice every day enjoyed superior thinking skills and better cognitive function than those who only drank it once per month (or even less). Interestingly, the positive association between orange juice and thinking skills mostly came up for the oldest men.
Of the tested healthy foods, the fruits showed the weakest association with brain benefits because the results needed to be adjusted for other dietary factors. Still, there was a positive correlation between eating fruits and brain health.
Starting a healthy diet early on lets you reap the brain benefits later in life
Yuan noted that participants who ate all these fruits and vegetables at the start of the study – 20 years ago – enjoyed better cognitive and memory skills. This long-term health benefit held true even if those people reduced their consumption of healthy foods six years before the final memory test.
The study did not involve women and men who were not health professionals. Additional studies could determine if these groups displayed different levels of benefits from eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fruit juice.