British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Variety in fruit and vegetable intake and cognitive function in middle-aged and older Puerto Rican adults

Xingwang Yea1, Shilpa N. Bhupathirajua1 and Katherine L. Tuckera1 c1

a1 Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, 316 Robinson Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Abstract

Higher variety in fruit and vegetable intake has been associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases. It remains unclear whether such associations exist relating to cognition. The authors examined associations between total quantity and variety in fruit and vegetable intake and cognitive function in a cross-sectional sample of 1412 Puerto Rican adults, aged 45–75 years from the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, 2004–9. Fruit and vegetable intake was assessed with a FFQ. Cognitive function was measured with a battery of seven tests; the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) was administrated to assess global cognitive function. Greater variety, but not total quantity, of fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a higher MMSE score after multivariate adjustment (P for trend = 0·012). This association remained significant after further adjusting for total quantity of fruit and vegetable intake (P for trend = 0·018). High variety of fruit and vegetable intake was also associated with individual cognitive domains, including executive function, memory and attention (all P for trend < 0·05). Variety, more than total quantity, of fruit and vegetable intake may offer cognitive protection in middle-aged and older adults, but longitudinal studies are needed to clarify direction of causality.

(Received June 20 2011)

(Revised January 16 2012)

(Accepted March 01 2012)

(Online publication May 01 2012)

Key Words:

  • Fruit;
  • Vegetables;
  • Dietary variety;
  • Cognition;
  • Middle-aged adults;
  • Puerto Ricans

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: K. L. Tucker, fax +1 617 373 2968, E-mail: kl.tucker@neu.edu

Footnotes

  Abbreviations: ADL, Activities of Daily Living; MMSE, Mini Mental State Examination