The best foods to keep dementia at bay
A new study from Tufts University, US, has found that a low intake of flavonoid-rich foods is linked with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Flavonoids are natural substances found in plants, including fruits and vegetables such as pears, apples, berries and onions; and plant-based drinks like tea and wine. Dark chocolate is another source.
The researchers found that older adults who consumed small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias compared with people whose flavonoid intake was higher.
While many studies have looked at associations between nutrition and dementias over short periods of time, this study took a broader view, examining the long-term relationship between eating foods containing flavonoids and risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The study followed 2800 people aged 50+
over a period of 20 years and found that low intake of three flavonoid types was linked to a higher risk of dementia when compared to the highest intake. The results found:
• Low intake of flavonols (apples, pears and tea) was associated with
twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
• Low intake of anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries, red wine) was associated with a four-fold risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
• Low intake of flavonoid polymers (apples, pears and tea) was associated with twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
• The results were similar for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our study gives us a picture of how diet over time might be related to a person’s cognitive decline, as we were able to look at flavonoid intake over many years prior to participants’ dementia diagnoses,” says senior study author, nutritional epidemiologist Paul Jacques. “With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.”
The researchers claim the people who may benefit the most from consuming more flavonoids are people at the lowest levels of intake, but that it doesn’t take much to improve levels. A cup of tea a day or some berries twice a week would be adequate.