This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, one citrus fruit a day comes loaded with health benefits, and studies show it may even help prevent dementia. Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan believe it reduces the risk by approximately one-fourth.
In the study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, more than 13,000 middle aged to senior adults were followed for up to seven years. It found participants who had a daily intake of oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit had a 23-percent lower likelihood of developing dementia than those who ate citrus less than twice a week.
“Some biological studies have indicated citrus may have preventive effects against cognitive impairment,” the authors said. “But no study has examined the relation between citrus consumption and rates of dementia. Our findings suggest frequent consumption is linked with a lower risk of dementia.”
Why are these fruits protective? Citric acid contains a chemical called nobiletin, which studies show can reduce or restore the loss of memory, as well as decrease inflammation. Other research indicates the compound is neuroprotective, a benefit that helps prevent the advance of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Still another study suggests citrus consumption is linked to protection against stroke.
The findings showing citrus is a strong tool for preventing dementia come at a time when the incidence of the condition is exploding. In the U.S. alone, Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5.5 million people, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization reports a person in the country develops dementia every 66 seconds and projects this timeframe will reduce to 33 seconds by mid-century.
Read More: 8 Surprising Health Benefits of Citrus Peel
Include Citrus in Your Daily Diet
Some health gurus advocate drinking lemon water first thing in the morning. Aside from providing a daily intake of nobiletin to protect the brain, the practice is associated with an array of other health benefits.
As citrus is encased within a rind, it is one of the most convenient fruits to grab on-the-go. When the mid-afternoon munchies hit, oranges are the perfect snack because the fiber content satisfies hunger without creating havoc with blood glucose like sugary foods. In addition, the vitamins, enzymes and other phytonutrients can provide a pick-me-up unlike a bag of chips or a processed snack, which are nutritionally devoid.