New research conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University studied the association between consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as tea, apples, and berries and the risk of developing complications related to Alzheimer’s disease and the health condition itself.
The study, which looked at approximately two thousand and eight hundred people, all of who were aged fifty and over, looked at the effects of consuming flavonoids in the long-term for a time period of around twenty years.
Flavonoids are substances that naturally occur in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and plants including apples, onions, pears, and also plant-based products such as wine and a number of herbal teas.
Previously, a number of studies have identified a number of benefits associated with the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods. A diet rich with such foods can help in improving metabolism, digestive health, reducing inflammation in the body, and even prevent certain types of cancers.
In the new study, whose findings appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the lack of three flavonoids in the diet can elevate the risk of developing different types of dementia in people in comparison with those with a higher amount of flavonoids in their diet.
Read the findings of the study here.
Firstly, the scientists found that a lower intake of flavonols, which are found in tea, apples, and pears, raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by twice.
On the other hand, not consuming enough anthocyanins, which are found in red wine, blueberries, and strawberries increase the risk by four times, and flavonoid polymers further raise the chances by twice as well.
The nutritional epidemiologist at the USDA HNRCA and the senior author of the study, Paul Jacques, explains the findings, saying “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,”
“With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.” He further added.
To further investigate the impact of consumption of flavonoids on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the researchers also examined the long-term effects of having six flavonoids in the diet on the risk of having the health conditions much later in life.
It was then found that the lack of consumption of three out of the six flavonoids was associated with higher chances of getting a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia later in life.
The first author of the study, Esra Shishta, states that the best and easiest way of adding flavonoids in the daily intake is by having tea. Having one or two cups of tea or a handful of berries per day can significantly cut down the risk of having disorders related to cognition in the coming years.
The researchers also emphasized that even though the average age of participants in the research was fifty, it is still not too late to make a positive change in the diet and can still be extremely beneficial for the health since the risk of dementia is higher after the age of seventy.
Therefore, any adult who starts consuming healthier foods and balances his diet accordingly can avoid health conditions such as dementia and other problems whose risk is higher with the process of aging.