Study: Flavonoids and Alzheimer’s Prevention
Citrus fruits, along with other plant-based foods such as tea, berries, apples, and cocoa, are rich in compounds called flavonoids. As the name suggests, these compounds give fruits and vegetables their distinctive flavors and colors.
There is ongoing research into the ability of flavonoids to protect the body against heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. A recent study suggests that a diet rich in flavonoids may also be able to help you lower your risk of developing dementia.
The Beauty of Flavonoids
Research has pointed to a number of beneficial properties though to be associated with consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids.
• They act as antioxidants, meaning they reduce cellular damage;
• They reduce inflammation, which is linked to many chronic diseases;
• They lower your cancer risk by impairing the ability of cancer cells to grow and divide.
Flavonoids and Dementia
What medical science does know is that Alzheimer’s disease can be associated with genetic and/or environmental factors, race, sex, and pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Some previous studies have suggested that a flavonoid-rich diet can help mange the symptoms of dementia. The paper’s authors noted, “Human intervention studies assessing the acute effects of flavonoid-rich foods, such as cocoa, blueberries, and orange juice, have revealed promising findings in the areas of memory, attention, and executive function.”
A recent study by researchers in Boston and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked to pinpoint which flavonoids were associated with the most benefit, using nearly 20 years of follow-up data from more than 2,800 participants. The study was based on the famous Framingham Heart Study (FHS), which followed the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, including 5,209 participants, starting in 1948.
The study found that diets high in flavonols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers resulted in what the researchers called “promising findings in the areas of memory, attention, and executive function.”
A Cautious Note of Optimism
It’s important to remember that the study of flavonoids is still relatively recent. It is still unknown, for example, how the body metabolizes them, or how they are activated once consumed. While it’s a promising beginning, the paper notes that future studies, in particular with more racially diverse populations, would be necessary to confirm the results.
Nonetheless, a diet rich in flavonoids is also rich in a variety of vitamins and other nutrients, making these foods an important component in helping to maintain good health.