Orange Juice Protects Cognitive Function

Headlines are rolling out expressing a new-found appreciation for the wonders of orange juice in response to a recently published study in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology.

The study followed over 27,000 men for 26 years and found that those who drank orange juice every day had “substantially lower” risk of having poor late-life cognitive function.

Researchers at Harvard University surveyed men with a mean age of 51 in 1986 about their vegetable and fruit intake. The same survey was repeated with the same men every four years until 2002. Then, in both 2008 and 2012, researchers used a questionnaire to determine subjective cognitive function (SCF). Scores were categorized as good, moderate, or poor.

Photo: pixabay/Myriams-Fotos

As might be expected, higher total intake of vegetables, fruits, and fruit juice were strongly associated with better SCF scores, even after controlling for non-dietary factors and total calorie intake. Researchers noted that fruit intake alone was less strongly associated with better SCF scores after adjusting for other dietary factors.

Interestingly, for orange juice specifically, those who had a serving daily had almost 50 percent less risk of poor SCF scores than those who drank orange juice only once a month. Men who ate more fruits and vegetables earlier in their lives, 18 to 22 years before their SCF assessments, had even lower risk of poor SCF scores than those who upped their intake later in life.

Photo: pixabay/RitaE

These findings certainly put orange juice in a good light, and this is not the first study to indicate that orange juice is good for the brain. It’s a PR boost that orange juice likely appreciates given the fact that in recent reasons it’s received criticism because of it’s high carb and high sugar content. And it’s certainly good to hear some positive news about breakfast’s favorite beverage (after coffee, of course).

The data also revealed that the group of men who ate the most vegetables (about six servings a day) were 34 percent less likely to develop poor thinking skills than the group who ate the least (about two servings a day).

Photo: pixabay/Pexels

Since the study only evaluated men, researchers noted that their findings may not necessarily apply to women. Nor can the study prove cause and effect—the daily orange juice drinkers had better late-life cognitive function, but it’s hard to say if that was caused by the orange juice itself. The OJ fans in the study may have engaged in other habits (such as higher vegetable intake) that were more responsible for the boost in brain health and lower risk of memory loss.

Still, the researchers conclude, “Our findings support a long-term beneficial role of vegetable fruit, and orange juice consumption on SCF.”

Sounds like it’s time to celebrate with a round of virgin mimosas—just be sure to serve them alongside plenty of veggies.

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