Does an Apple a Day Keep Dementia Away?

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Apples have been touted as not only a delicious fruit but also as an effective way to improve your health. Research suggests that eating apples can benefit your heart, your teeth, and your energy level. Eating a higher amount of fruits and vegetables, in general, has also been associated with a lower risk for chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer and perhaps even Alzheimer's disease.

So, is it true that apples are a super fruit? Do they impact the health and functioning of your brain? The research is limited, but it does show some promise.

Research Studies on Apples and the Brain

The Effect of Apples on Memory

One study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease involved older mice who were fed a deficient diet. These mice then demonstrated a decline in their cognitive ability shown by poor performance in navigating a maze. However, after apple juice was added to their drinking water for a month, their memory was restored and they were able to efficiently navigate the maze again. (Often, research on mice translates to humans, which would suggest that apple juice may improve our memory.)

How Do Apples Affect the Actual Health of the Brain?

A second study found that the actual brain structure was affected in mice whose drinking water included apple juice. The mice's brains were examined and found to contain a decreased level of beta-amyloid protein, as compared to the brains of mice whose drinking water had not contained apple juice.

The accumulation and excess of this protein in the brain are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

Will Eating an Apple Right Before a Test Help You Perform Better?

A third study tested the immediate effects of apples and spinach (both separately and together) and found no change in the cognitive functioning of the participants right after eating the foods.

The study did not, however, measure if a sustained diet that included apples affected cognition or risk of dementia over time.


Advances in Nutrition. 2011 Sep;2(5):408-20. A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health.

Food & Function. 2014 Apr 23;5(5):849-58. The acute effect of flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach on cognitive performance and mood in healthy men and women.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Volume 16, Number 1 / 2009. Dietary Supplementation with Apple Juice Decreases Endogenous Amyloid-β Levels in Murine Brain.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2005 Dec;8(3):283-7. Apple juice concentrate prevents oxidative damage and impaired maze performance in aged mice.

New York Fruit Quarterly. Antioxidants of Apples. VOLUME 11 NUMBER 4 • 2003-2004.