For better brain function, consider starting your day with a nice big glass of orange juice, a new study says. Researchers from the University of Reading say that by drinking just over two glasses of orange juice every day, you'll show slight improvements in brain function in around two months.
The small study involved just 37 healthy older adults with an average age of 67, who were split into two groups: an OJ group that drank half a liter of juice every day for eight weeks and a control group that drank the same amount of a drink similar in taste and calories.
The participants were given a number of tests both at the start and end of the study, giving them a composite cognition score, based on things like memory, verbal fluency and reaction time.
Eight weeks later, the OJ group saw an 8 percent improvement in their overall cognition, when compared with the control group.
Though the results are modest, University of Reading researchers say that if the improvements continued, OJ drinkers could potentially reap major benefits over a longer period. "Small, easily administered changes to the daily diet, such as eating more flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables, have the potential to substantially benefit brain health. We know that people find it difficult to sustain big changes to their diet but simple alterations are much easier to maintain permanently," the study's co-author Daniel Lamport said in a release.
The recommendations are interesting as many nutritionists recommend eating whole fruit rather than juices when possible, since juices are often loaded with added sugars and calories, but without the fiber to reduce the sugar spikes.
The University of Reading researchers point to the flavonoids in OJ as the cause of improved cognition. Flavonoids are compounds that have antioxidant properties and are found abundantly in foods like blueberries, green tea and chocolate. Other studies have backed up the claims of flavonoids' brain-boosting power. A 2012 study found that the flavonoids in blueberries and strawberries could help stave off cognitive aging by more than two years in older people. Another eight-week study found that subjects who drank flavonoid-rich cocoa beverages performed better on memory and cognition tests.
Critics, however, say the study isn't conclusive. According to an article published by the UK's National Health Service, the study was too small and limited since it only included healthy older adults without cognitive impairments. They also pointed out that the improvements shown were part of a composite score rather than based on individual tests.