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If you want to reduce your odds of developing Alzheimer’s (and who doesn’t?), you should make one simple change to your diet — eat more flavonoid-rich foods. Why? Because the amount of these antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds you eat now directly impacts your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the decades to come.
What are flavonoids, exactly?
They’re natural substances found in plants. In fact, they’re probably in many of the foods and beverages you already eat and drink, like pears, apples, berries, onions, tea and wine.
Plenty of research has already proven that these plant-based substances can improve health and reduce inflammation. They’ve even been tied to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and stroke.
But a recent study shows they have a direct influence on your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The study also shows that certain types of flavonoids are more beneficial to your brain health than others…
3 flavonoids make the biggest difference in dementia risk
A new study from researchers at Tufts University found that older adults who ate a lot of flavonoid-filled foods over a 20-year period were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than older adults who ate a small amount of these foods.
The study included 2,800 people who were 50 years old or older. Researchers tracked their flavonoid-intake through dietary questionnaires that were filled out every four years. At the end of the 20-year period, researchers made a critical observation:
People with the lowest intake of these three flavonoids were the ones who ended up with the highest risk for Alzheimer’s:
- Flavonols. People with a low intake of this flavonoid had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
- Anthocyanins. People who ate very little of this flavonoid increased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by four-fold.
- Polymers. Low intake of polymer flavonoids doubled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Luckily, all three of these flavonoids are readily available in plenty of delicious, healthy foods that you can start eating more of right away.
The flavonoid-filled foods to add to your diet now
Like I mentioned earlier, flavonoids are found in a variety foods and beverages, including pears, apples, berries, onions, tea and wine. They’re also in dark chocolate. But you may still be wondering what foods contain the three flavonoids that made the biggest difference in dementia risk…
- You can find flavanols in apples, pears and tea.
- Flavonoid polymers are in apples, pears and tea as well.
- Anthocyanins are in blueberries, strawberries and red wine.
In the study, people with the lowest intake of these flavonoids had no berries per month, about one-and-a-half apples per month and no tea per month. People with the highest intake had 7.5 cups of blueberries or strawberries per month, 8 apples and pears per month and 19 cups of tea per month. So that gives you a good idea of how much to shoot for.
But beyond the obvious take away to eat more flavonoids, there’s one other important message from this study:
50 is far from too old to make positive changes that influence your dementia risk. That’s when researchers started tracking the flavonoid intake of people in the study — at age 50. And the number of flavonoids consumed between 50 and 70 really did make a dent in dementia risk.
“The risk of dementia really starts to increase over age 70, and the take-home message is, when you are approaching 50 or just beyond, you should start thinking about a healthier diet if you haven’t already,” said Paul Jacques, senior author of the study.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!
- More berries, apples and tea may have protective benefits against Alzheimer’s — MedicalXpress.
- Long-term dietary flavonoid intake and risk of Alzheimer disease and related dementias in the Framingham Offspring Cohort — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Flavonoids: Antioxidants Help the Mind — Psychology Today.
- What Are Flavonoids? Everything You Need to Know — Healthline.