The next time you go to the grocery store, you may want to add some berries or apples to your cart if you weren’t already planning on it. A team of researchers have concluded that long-term consumption of flavonoid-rich foods may serve a very important role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
To break it down simply, flavonoids are naturally occurring plant metabolites that protect plants and are found in most fruits and vegetables. When consumed by humans, they can have a handful of benefits, with six different flavonoid sub-types having different benefits depending on the type. Some of the long list of benefits include anti-inflammation, antioxidant and anti-allergenic properties, as well as balancing hormones and eliminating free radicals from the body.
The antioxidant benefits of fruits like berries have been touted by the nutrition industry for many years, but for this particular study researchers took an even deeper look into a possible link between flavonoid consumption and a lowered risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.
The long-term study followed 2,800 adults who were not exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The study was conducted over a span of two decades and monitored dietary intake as well as development of the diseases. The study found that participants who consumed the highest amount ofanthocyanins, flavanols and flavonoid polymers (three of the flavonoid sub-types) were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease when compared to those who had limited intake. The results based on flavonoid type were as follows:
- The group with the highest anthocyanin consumption was found to be 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
- The group with the highest flavonol consumption was found to be 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
- The group with the highest polymer consumption was found to be 46 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
There is still much work to be done to effectively utilize the study’s findings, including more research on how other lifestyle factors of those with high flavonoid consumption impacted the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, nutrition is an easy change to incorporate into lifestyles and one that has benefits beyond the cognitive.
To build upon this study and others like it, it’s imperative that we support the important work researchers are doing. An easy way to do this is spreading awareness about how memory impairment disease impacts the lives of those diagnosed, as well as their loved ones.