In a study from Tufts University, scientists found older adults who consumed small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as berries, apples and tea, were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias over 20 years.
The team examined 2,800 people aged 50 and older and the long-term link between eating foods containing flavonoids and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).
Flavonoids are natural substances found in plants, including fruits and vegetables such as pears, apples, berries, onions, and plant-based beverages like tea and wine.
Flavonoids are associated with various health benefits, including reduced inflammation. Dark chocolate is another source of flavonoids.
The team found that a low intake of three flavonoid types was linked to a higher risk of dementia when compared to the highest intake. Specifically:
Low intake of flavonols (apples, pears and tea) was associated with twice the risk of developing ADRD.
Low intake of anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries, and red wine) was associated with a four-fold risk of developing ADRD.
Low intake of flavonoid polymers (apples, pears, and tea) was associated with twice the risk of developing ADRD.
The results were similar for AD.
This study gives people a picture of how diet over time might be related to a person’s cognitive decline, as researchers were able to look at flavonoid intake over many years prior to participants’ dementia diagnoses.
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.
The team says that the people who may benefit the most from consuming more flavonoids are people at the lowest levels of intake, and it doesn’t take much to improve levels.
A cup of tea a day or some berries two or three times a week would be adequate.
The team also says that 50, the approximate age at which data was first analyzed for participants, is not too late to make positive dietary changes.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and Coconut oil may help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The study was conducted by Paul Jacques et al and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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