The team also found that high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption near the start of the study period was linked to a lower chance of having a poor SCF score some 20 years later.
Whether or not the men kept eating lots of fruits and vegetables — up to 6 years before taking the SCF test — had no effect on the link.
The link does not prove cause and effect
Due to its design, the study cannot conclude that consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and orange juice actually reduces the chances of developing memory loss.
The results do, however — by revealing the links between the two, particularly over a long period of time — support the idea that eating lots of fruit and vegetables helps avert memory decline.
The authors argue that the fact that the men did not undergo tests of memory and thinking ability at the start of the study in order to assess decline over the whole period is not necessarily a big weakness.
All the men were or had been in professions that involved years of training requiring a high level of cognitive competence, such as dentistry, optometry, and veterinary.
They also note that because the study was confined to men in these groups, the findings do not necessarily apply to all men or women.
"One of the most important factors in this study is that we were able to research and track such a large group of men over a 20-year period of time, allowing for very telling results.