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Sun, Jun 16, 2019

Neurodegenerative Diseases
The Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and vascular dementia share, in part, similar etiology to and risk factors for CVD, including oxidative stress (95). It has been proposed that antioxidants, including polyphenols present in fruits and vegetables, might have a protective effect on vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. In vitro studies have shown that flavonoids, found abundantly in fruits and vegetables, protect rat neuronal cells from oxidative stress (96).

Dietary intake of flavonoids may be associated with reduced risk of dementia. In a cohort of 1,367 men and women followed for 5 years in southern France, dietary intake of flavonoids was inversely related to risk of dementia (95). Fruit (35.2% of total intake) provided the majority of flavonoids, while vegetables provided 19.1% of flavonoids. Wine and tea were the other major dietary sources. One major limitation to this study is that some important vegetable sources of flavonoids (e.g. onions) were not included in the dietary assessment. Nevertheless, there was a 51% reduction in relative risk for dementia between the second and third tertile of flavonoid intake compared to the lowest intake.

Vitamin C and vitamin E intake may provide protection against Alzheimer's. Plasma levels of vitamin C were found to be 30-60% lower in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease, respectively, in spite of comparable dietary intake of vitamin C (97). Vitamin C intake and plasma levels have been correlated with cognition performance in healthy aging subjects (98). The reduced plasma levels in Alzheimer's patients may indicate an increase in oxidative stress resulting from the disease although there is much work to be done in this area.


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