Does an Apple a Day Keep Dementia Away?

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.

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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.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Esther Heerema, MSW
Esther Heerema, MSW, shares practical tips gained from working with hundreds of people whose lives are touched by Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia.