- A recent study suggests that a higher intake of antioxidant flavonols, often found in berries, leafy greens, tea, and certain alcohols, might slow cognitive decline in older adults.
- This research found that those who consumed a serving of leafy green vegetables daily slowed their cognitive decline rate by approximately 32% compared to those who did not consume flavanol-rich foods.
- The conduction of the study involved nearly 1000 elderly, dementia-free adults over an average of seven years, with areas of focus including recollection of dietary habits and cognitive and memory tests.
- The intake of many plant-based foods like kale, beans, spinach, broccoli, apples, oranges, and tea was linked to cognitive health benefits. This can be attributed to flavonols among other beneficial compounds that jointly operate to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, protect and repair cells, and decrease oxidative stress.
- Flavonols alone are not enough to prevent cognitive decline, integral elements of a healthy lifestyle such as a diverse diet, regular physical activity, continuous learning, quality sleep and stress management also play a significant role in maintaining physical and mental health.
Incorporating more berries into your diet and increasing tea consumption could be a beneficial step towards slowing cognitive decline as you age, according to recent research.
This study involved over 900 individuals and performed a deep dive into the effects of foods that are rich in antioxidant flavonols. The foods were noted to provide substantial brain benefits, especially to elderly individuals. Flavonols are typically found in fruits like berries, leafy green veggies, tea, and alcohol like wine.
Benefits of Greens and Flavonols
For instance, it was found that those who consumed a serving of leafy green vegetables each day slowed their cognitive decline rate by around 32%. This stands in stark contrast with individuals who refrained from eating any flavanol-rich foods. This is according to the main researcher, an instructional professor of internal medicine at a renowned medical center in Chicago.
He shared that flavonols function as both anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. They destroy harmful free radicals and prevent cell damage. Moreover, they deter cell damage in both the brain and additional organs such as the heart, the liver, and the kidneys.
He does not suggest flavonols provided via dietary supplements. Rather, he advocates for a diverse nutrient-filled diet to maximize flavonols intake.
The Research Process
During the study, the research team collected data from 961 adults with an average age of 81, all of whom were dementia-free. Questionnaires about their diet were completed yearly for an average of seven years, alongside cognitive and memory tests. These tests involved remembering word lists, recalling numbers, and appropriately arranging them.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that only an association is suggested between greater flavonols intake and delayed cognitive decline. A direct cause-and-effect relationship has not been conclusively proven. Additionally, the recollection of dietary choices among the subjects could bear degrees of inaccuracy.
Overall, individuals who consumed the most flavonols were found to have slower memory decline compared to those who had fewer amounts. Notably, this remained true even after considering factors like age, gender, and smoking habits.
Plant Power: Nutritional Goldmines
Among the many foods found to aid cognitive health are kale, beans, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, oranges, pears, olive oil, tea, wine, and tomato sauce.
“Plant-based foods are rich in potent nutrients delivering significant health benefits,” stated a senior clinical nutritionist based in New York City. Flavonoids, she further explained, are part of a large family of compounds found in plants, including a subgroup called flavonols.
This particular study examined flavonol’s dietary content and its correlation with cognitive health. It’s essential to understand, she added, that we do not consume flavonols in isolation. Our diet typically would include a mix of phytonutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals, such as flavonols. These compounds work together to deliver health benefits.
When interacting, these compounds can reduce inflammation, boosting the immune system, protect and repair cells, and decrease oxidative stress as they operate in numerous biological processes. Nonetheless, she pointed out that a single dietary element is unlikely to be a magic key to a long and healthy life.
Importance of Lifestyle Choices
The researcher agreed that flavonols alone can't prevent cognitive decline. To maintain physical and mental health, one must lead a comprehensive healthy lifestyle which includes a diverse diet of fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity, and always seeking to learn new things.
Besides, it is indispensable to focus on sleep quality and stress reduction, as both play a significant role in overall health. Remember, it's never too early or late to start making healthier choices.
The detailed report of the study was released online.
For further reading on flavonols, please refer to the page:A Flavorful Way to Boost Heart and Brain Health.