New US research has found that older adults who include plenty of flavonoid-rich foods in their diet like berries, apples, tea, and wine may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Carried out by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University in Massachusetts, the study looked at 2,801 participants aged 50 and older to investigate the relationship between eating foods containing flavonoids and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias over a period of 20 years. Flavonoids are natural substances found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. Not to mention, dark chocolates as well.
The findings in this study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that participants who had a low intake of flavonoids appeared to have a higher risk of dementia than those with higher intake. Those with a lower intake of flavonoids have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Meanwhile, a low intake of anthocyanins—another type of flavonoids found in berries and red wine—was associated with a four-fold risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
The researchers explained that a low intake was equal to no berries, approximately one-and-a-half apples and/or pears, and no tea per month. A high intake, on the other hand, was equal to around 7.5 cups of berries, eight apples and/or pears, and 19 cups of tea per month.
“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,” said senior researcher Paul Jacques. “With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.”
“Tea, specifically green tea, and berries are good sources of flavonoids,” said another researcher Esra Shishtar. “When we look at the study results, we see that individuals can benefit from consuming more flavonoids. Those who are at the lower levels of flavonoids intake, it doesn’t take much to improve it. A cup of tea a day or some berries two or three times a week is adequate.”
Jacques also added that even later in life at age 50, which was the age at which the participants’ first had their diets analyzed, it’s still not too late to make positive diet changes. “The risk of dementia really starts to increase over age 70. And the take-home message is this: When you are approaching 50 or just above, you should start thinking about a healthier diet if you haven’t already.”