An apple a day is meant to keep the doctor away. Now it’s an orange a day that is likely to cut dementia risk by a quarter, a major study shows. Daily intake of any citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons or limes can cut the chances of developing the incurable brain condition by almost a quarter, it suggests. The findings, by a team of scientists at Tohoku University in Japan, surmise that tangy fruits could be a powerful weapon against a disease that is emerging as modern day epidemic.


Numerous studies have suggested that citrus fruits can protect the brain against the damage that leads to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Citric acid contains a chemical, Nobiletin, which in animal tests has been shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory. But the new research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, is the first major study to investigate the effects citrus fruit consumption might have on large numbers of those most at risk. Scientists tracked more than 13,000 middle-aged or elderly men and women for several years and found those with a daily intake of citrus were 23% less likely to develop dementia than those eating it less than twice a week. The results come days after experts warned that Britain faces an epidemic of dementia.

Researchers, led by University College, London and Liverpool University, said the total affected will jump 60% to 1.2 million in England alone by 2040. Without suitable health campaigns to raise awareness of how to prevent the brain disorder, experts said this figure could hit 1.9 million, up from 800,000 currently. New cases of dementia are actually falling in Britain at a rate of over 2% a year but an ageing population means the number living with it will carry on rising for at least the next twenty years.
In the latest study, scientists tracked older adults for up to seven years to see how many developed dementia. Rates of dementia amongst those eating citrus fruits at least once a day were significantly lower than in volunteers having them less than twice a week. In their report, the scientists said: ‘Some biological studies have indicated citrus may have preventive effects against cognitive impairment. But no study has examined the relation between citrus consumption and rates of dementia. Our findings, such as frequent consumption, are linked with a lower risk of dementia.’

Well, I’m glad to hear that citrus fruits are likely to decrease the risk to dementia in old age. For my breakfast invariably starts with an orange on a daily basis, as I find it very refreshing, especially given that I eat it at 4.30 am every morning without fail. Do you reckon I’ve gone crazy in my old age?


  1. My father (1926) uses lemon juice every day, whether in salad or even as he washes or cooks meat and vegetables. As he says, I’m sure it contributes in someway. He’s still as clever and lovable as ever.

    I’m happy to read a recent post from you as I found your blog while looking for information on “God cried”. My late husband came to age in June 1982 and it was terrifying. His father had been very strict and refused that he join a militia. Hed tell his son, “If you want to carry a weapon (in one hand), in the other you must have a book”. By this he meant education, attending school, and not the Koran, which is unfortunately the first thought people have when they hear this anecdote…

    My husband’s first combat experience was stepping into a room where a bomb exploded, the shockwave of which blinded him for a few days. 17 years old, ears ringing and blind in an unknown location, smoke, noise, and thankfully comrades who did not let him down.

    Later, his mother died from fright as the balcony was shelled (she had a heart condition). After efforts to resuscitate her, as a last resort the family put a mirror to her mouth because it was impossible to have a doctor come and confirm her death. The older children were taking care of the 2 little ones who been sitting with their mother when she collapsed. Then the father and son had to bury her in the middle of the night, for fear of getting caught under fire.

    His family, my in-laws whom I met 18 years ago still suffer the consequences of the destruction of Beirut and endless conflict in the region. They deal with a ineffectual government and poor health, but also in their every days lives, interact with people of many faiths and denominations with what we would call “tolerance” in the West. But it is beyond that, they are aware of differences but naturally accept these because the present moment counts. Each community has value, and it been so for millenia. The Lebanese are always ready to enjoy life.

    Just as a daily helping of citrus safeguards health, daily doses of individual stories and anecdotes from people in war zones could assist in safeguarding us from perpetual conflict. Mass media and policy quibbles remind me of vitamins, pills which contain one or few active ingredients. Knowing individuals, learning about their stories over time is the real thing, just like the citrus fruit, a complex system of the interaction of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, texture, color and taste. Which is why I look forward to reading God cried.

    Thank you for listening.