High fruit and vegetable intake is positively correlated with antioxidant status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects

J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(4):921-7. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2009-1114.


A higher daily intake of fruits and vegetables in healthy elderly is associated with an improved antioxidant status in comparison to subjects consuming diets poor in fruits and vegetables, but the impact on cognitive performance is unclear. Healthy community dwellers (45 to 102 years old, n=193) underwent cognitive testing and blood withdrawal for the measurement of antioxidant micronutrients and biomarkers of oxidative stress as well as administration of a food frequency questionnaire to assess the daily intake of fruits and vegetables (high intake HI, low intake LI). Ninety-four subjects of the HI group had significantly higher cognitive test scores, higher levels of carotenoids, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol as well as lower levels of F2 alpha isoprostanes than the 99 subjects of the LI group. Cognitive scores were directly correlated with blood levels of alpha-tocopherol and lycopene and negatively correlated with F2 alpha isoprostanes and protein carbonyls. The results were independent of age, gender, body mass index, education, total cholesterol, LDL- and HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and albumin. Healthy subjects of any age with a high daily intake of fruits and vegetables have higher antioxidant levels, lower levels of biomarkers of oxidative stress, and better cognitive performance than healthy subjects of any age consuming low amounts of fruits and vegetables. Modification of nutritional habits aimed at increasing intake of fruits and vegetables should be encouraged to lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in later life.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Cognition*
  • F2-Isoprostanes / blood
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Protein Carbonylation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*
  • alpha-Tocopherol / blood
  • gamma-Tocopherol / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • F2-Isoprostanes
  • Micronutrients
  • Carotenoids
  • gamma-Tocopherol
  • alpha-Tocopherol
  • Lycopene