X-Message-Number: 28725
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 12:09:00 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Vegetables may keep brains young

[The interesting thing about this study was that it did not find any
protective effect for fruits. This partially contradicts a previous study
which found strong brain protection with frequent fruit juice
consumption. However many high ORAC fruits that are active against
beta-amyloid have been, until recently almost exclusively available only
as juices. Examples of these are pomegranate, and blueberry juices.]

Study: Vegetables may keep brains young

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
Mon Oct 23, 7:41 PM ET

CHICAGO - New research on vegetables and aging gives
mothers another reason to say "I told you so." It found
that eating vegetables appears to help keep the brain young
and may slow the mental decline sometimes associated
with growing old.

On measures of mental sharpness, older people who ate
more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared
about five years younger at the end of the six-year study
than those who ate few or no vegetables.

The research in almost 2,000 Chicago-area men and
women doesn't prove that vegetables reduce mental decline,
but it adds to mounting evidence pointing in that direction.
The findings also echo previous research in women only.

Green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale and collards
appeared to be the most beneficial. The researchers said
that may be because they contain healthy amounts of
vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight
chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells.

Vegetables generally contain more vitamin E than fruits,
which were not linked with slowed mental decline in the
study. Vegetables also are often eaten with healthy fats
such as salad oils, which help the body absorb vitamin E
and other antioxidants, said lead author Martha Clare
Morris, a researcher at the Rush Institute for Healthy
Aging at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.

The fats from healthy oils can help keep cholesterol low
and arteries clear, which both contribute to brain health.

The study was published in this week's issue of the journal
Neurology and funded with grants from the National Institute
on Aging.

"This is a sound paper and contributes to our understanding
of cognitive decline," said Dr. Meir Stampfer of Harvard's
School of Public Health.

"The findings specific for vegetables and not fruit add further
credibility that this is not simply a marker of a more healthful
lifestyle," said Stampfer, who was not involved in the research.

The research involved 1,946 people aged 65 and older who
filled out questionnaires about their eating habits. A vegetable
serving equaled about a half-cup chopped or one cup if the
vegetable was a raw leafy green like spinach.

They also had mental function tests three times over about
six years; about 60 percent of the study volunteers were black.

The tests included measures of short-term and delayed memory,
which asked these older people to recall elements of a story that
had just been read to them. The participants also were given a
flashcard-like exercise using symbols and numbers.

Overall, people did gradually worse on these tests over time,
but those who ate more than two vegetable servings a day had
about 40 percent less mental decline than those who ate few or
no vegetables. Their test results resembled what would be
expected in people about five years younger, Morris said,

The study also found that people who ate lots of vegetables
were more physically active, adding to evidence that "what's
good for your heart is good for your brain," said neuroscientist
Maria Carillo, director of medical and scientific relations for
the Alzheimer's Association.

The study examined mental decline but did not look at whether
any of the study volunteers developed Alzheimer's disease.


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