Researchers followed almost 28,000 men for two decades starting when they were 51 years old, on average. Every four years, participants answered questionnaires about their consumption of fruits, vegetables and other foods. They also took tests of thinking and memory skills when they were 73 years old, on average.
Based on those test results, researchers found that by the time they were in their later 70s, men who had regularly eaten the most vegetables over the previous decades were 17 percent less likely to have moderate cognitive problems and 34 percent less likely to have more extensive cognitive deficits than men whose diets contained the least produce.
Fruit consumption, overall, didn’t appear to influence the risk of moderate cognitive problems, but men who drank more orange juice were 47 percent less likely to have extensive cognitive deficits than men who drank the least, the researchers note in the journal Neurology.
“Long-term intake of vegetables (e.g., green leafy, dark orange and red vegetables), fruit (e.g. berry fruits) and fruit juice (e.g. orange juice) may be beneficial for late-life subjective cognitive function among U.S. men,” lead study author Changzheng Yuan of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said in an email.
Men should still go easy on the orange juice, however.
“The protective role of regular consumption of fruit juice was mainly observed among the oldest men,” Yuan said.