Drinking fruit or vegetable juice several times a week could help protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the September issue of
The American Journal of Medicine
The nine-year study involving nearly 2,000 people, led by Professor Qi Dai of Tennessee's Vanderbilt University, showed that the risk of developing Alzheimer's - a degenerative brain disease that affects a person's memory, thinking and mood - was cut by 76 per cent among those who drank fruit or vegetable juice more than three times a week.
Among those who drank juice once a week, the risk was reduced by 16 per cent.
The study focused on 1,836 dementia-free people in Seattle, Washington beginning in 1991. They were tracked by questionnaires on their lifestyle and eating habits, as well as by cognitive function tests that were conducted every two years.
Although the scientific community had long thought that antioxidant vitamins like vitamins C and E or carotene had protective benefits against Alzheimer's, the study confirmed their belief that "there was maybe something else," Dai said, pointing to polyphenols, natural antioxidants found in juice, tea and wine.
"Animal studies and cell culture studies confirmed that some polyphenols from juices showed a stronger neuroprotective effect than antioxidant vitamins. So we are now looking at polyphenols," Dai said.
The study did not indicate whether some types of juice were more beneficial than others.
The study was part of a larger research project examining Alzheimer's disease in Japan, Hawaii and Seattle.
The illness affects some 4.5 million Americans and nearly 5.4 million people in Western Europe.