Harvard Medical School researchers have found that women who eat lots of mustard greens, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower or brussels sprouts in middle age preserved more of their cognitive abilities as they entered their 70s.
"Diets rich in fruits and vegetables decrease cardiovascular disease, perhaps due to nutrients such as antioxidants and folate," said author Jae Hee Kang, Sc.D., of Harvard Medical School. Kang and colleagues evaluated participants in the Nurses Health Study, which has been following the diets and health status of more than 13,000 women since 1972. The researchers calculated the women's intake of fruits and vegetables between 1984 and 1995 and correlated these values with performance on tests of cognitive function conducted between 1995 and 2003, when the women were in their 70s.
Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, overall, did not affect the overall decline in cognitive scores, whether due to aging or any forms of dementia. However, the researchers found that women with the highest consumption of green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables - both high in folate and antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin C - declined less than women who ate little of these vegetables.
"This difference can be approximated as being one to two years younger in terms of cognitive aging," said Kang. "Although this difference may be modest, if confirmed by other studies it may have a large impact in reducing the public health burden of dementia."
Dementia is a syndrome consisting of a number of symptoms that include loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood, behaviour and communication abilities. Alzheimer Disease, the most common form of dementia.
- Alzheimer Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that destroys vital brain cells. It is not a normal part of aging.
- The symptoms of Alzheimer Disease include a gradual onset and continuing decline of memory, changes in judgment or reasoning, and an inability to perform familiar tasks.
- There is no known cause or cure for Alzheimer Disease. However, there is medication to treat some of the symptoms.
- Alzheimer Disease can strike adults at any age, but occurs most commonly in people over 65.
- There are two forms of Alzheimer Disease: Familial Autosomal Dominant (FAD), a rare form of the disease, and the more common Sporadic.