Wish to prevent Alzheimer’s? Eat more superfoods rich in flavonols. (Flavonols, a type of flavonoids, have been shown to lower the risks of hypertension, heart disease, and the so-called “bad” cholesterol, or LDLs and VLDLs)
That’s according to a study by Tufts University researchers, who found that individuals with the highest flavonol intake are nearly 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with the lowest intake. Eating more flavonol-rich superfoods linked to lower Alzheimer’s risk
Flavonols are a group of flavonoids commonly found in fruits and vegetables. They include kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin and isorhamnetin. These nutrients are available in the following superfoods:
- Kaempferol: Kale, tea, beans, spinach, broccoli
- Quercetin: Onions, apples, berries, citrus fruits, capers
- Myricetin: Tea, wine, kale oranges, tomatoes
- Isorhamnetin: Pears, olive oil, wine, tomatoes
As antioxidants, flavonols can protect against diseases associated with oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, such as Alzheimer’s disease. With that in mind, the researchers tracked the health status and diets of more than 900 adults with an average age of 81 years.
The participants had no Alzheimer’s at the start of the study. Each year, they had neurologic evaluations and completed a questionnaire that asked how often they consumed 144 foods over the past year.
The researchers used those questionnaires to calculate the amount of kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin and isorhamnetin that each of the participants consumed. They then divided the participants according to how much flavonol was in their diet. On average, those with the highest intake had 15.3 milligrams (mg) a day while those with the lowest intake had 5.3 mg.
Two hundred twenty participants developed Alzheimer’s over an average follow-up of six years. After adjusting for risk factors such as age and physical activity, the researchers found that the participants with the highest total flavonol intake had a 48 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with the lowest intake.
When it comes to certain flavonols, the participants who consumed the highest amount of kaempferol had a 51 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s compared to those who consumed the lowest. Meanwhile, both the volunteers who consumed the most myricetin or isorhamnetin had a 38 percent reduced risk. Quercetin was not associated with any risk reduction.
These findings suggested that the more you eat flavonol-rich superfoods, the less likely you will develop Alzheimer’s.
More studies link high antioxidant intake and lower Alzheimer’s risk.
A 2002 study found that eating antioxidant-rich superfoods may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Researchers arrived at this finding after examining the diets of nearly 5,400 adults aged 55 and above between 1990 and 1999.
They were looking to determine how the consumption of foods rich in vitamins C and E – both of which act as antioxidants – affects Alzheimer’s risk. The following superfoods contain these two nutrients:
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, kiwi, sprouts, broccoli, cabbage
- Vitamin E: whole grains, nuts, milk, egg yolk
The participants did not have dementia at the beginning of the study and self-reported what they ate through food frequency questionnaires. After analyzing the participants’ diets, the researchers found that high intakes of vitamins C and E are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
These associations remained consistent even after controlling for risk factors, such as age, mental status, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, total energy intake and the presence of the apolipoprotein E4 allele, which is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Another 2002 study also examined how vitamin E intake impacts brain health. It involved more than 800 adults aged 65 and older, 131 of whom developed Alzheimer’s during an average follow-up of nearly four years.
When risk factors were taken into account, the participants with the highest vitamin E intake had a 70 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with the lowest intake.
Notably, neither of these two studies found a benefit from consuming vitamin C and E supplements even though they provide higher amounts than foods. This suggested that the best way to reap the vitamins’ brain benefits is to eat more superfoods that contain the nutrients.
In all, this trio of studies suggests that antioxidants, such as flavonols and vitamins C and E, can help protect against Alzheimer’s dementia. Eat more antioxidant-rich superfoods to keep your brain healthy as you age.
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