Remember to eat your veggies . . . or, eat your veggies to remember

A report published in the October 24, 2006 issue of the American Academy of Neurology journal Neurology revealed the finding of researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that eating vegetables may help slow the decline in cognitive function associated with aging.

In a study funded by the National Institute on Aging, Martha Clare Morris, ScD of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging and colleagues evaluated food frequency questionnaires completed by 3,718 Chicago residents aged 65 and older. Participants completed at least two of three cognitive function tests conducted at the beginning of the study and at three and six years.

The researchers discovered that vegetable, but not fruit consumption was associated with a reduced rate of cognitive decline. Green leafy vegetables were found to have the strongest association, and older individuals appeared to benefit the most.

"Compared to people who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day saw their rate of cognitive change slow by roughly 40 percent," Dr Morris stated. "This decrease is equivalent to about five years of younger age."

Dr Morris added that the lack of benefit found for fruit was unanticipated. "It may be due to vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin E, which helps lower the risk of cognitive decline," she explained. "Vegetables, but not fruits, are also typically consumed with added fats such as salad dressings, and fats increase the absorption of vitamin E. Still, further study is required to understand why fruit is not associated with cognitive change."