LIFESTYLE

Drinking Orange Juice Every Day Can Improve Memory Function In Older People, Study Suggests

18/05/2015 12:38 BST | Updated 18/05/2015 12:59 BST

If you're over the age of 60, you may want to include orange juice in your morning routine more often.

According to new research, drinking just one glass of orange juice per day can significantly improve memory function in elderly people.

Researchers claim it takes just two months of drinking orange juice for people between the ages of 60 and 85 to experience improvements in memory, speech and reaction times.

orange juice breakfast

For the study, researchers from The University of Reading asked a group of 37 healthy men and women with an average age of 67 to drink 500ml (just under a pint) of orange juice every day for a total of eight weeks.

Participants' memory, reaction time and verbal fluency was measured once at the start of the experiment, then again after the eight weeks had passed.

These results were combined into one overall score, referred to as ‘global cognitive function' throughout the study.

According to the researchers, participants' global cognitive function score improved by an average of 8% after drinking orange juice for eight weeks.

Although the figure may seem small, an 8% improvement equates to remembering one more item from a shopping list of 15 products, which could have a significant impact on lifestyle, the study authors said.

"The population is ageing rapidly across the world. Estimates suggest that the number of persons aged 60 or over could triple by 2100. It's therefore imperative that we explore simple, cost-effective ways to improve cognitive function in old age," Dr Daniel Lamport, co-author of the study said, according to ITV News.

Despite the positive results, the researchers are not recommending that people drink 500ml of orange juice every day, as many juices may cause people to consume more sugar than is recommended.

Susan Jebb, head of diet and obesity research at the Medical Research Council's human nutrition research unit, has previously warned about the surprising amount of sugar found in orange juice.

“I would support taking it out of the five-a-day guidance,” she said in 2014.

“Fruit juice isn’t the same as intact fruit and it has got as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks. It is also absorbed very fast so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice.

"I have to say, it is a relatively easy thing to give up. Swap it and have a piece of real fruit. If you are going to drink it, you should dilute it.”

But the University of Reading study may still be useful. The researchers say further study may indicate how the constituents of orange juice could be consumed in an alternative way in order to benefit cognitive function, without over-loading the body on sugar.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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