Strawberry, blueberry, orange, and pepper colors are the result of chemicals called flavonoids in plants. Researchers believe that these phytochemicals can reduce oxidative stress in neurons because of their powerful antioxidant properties. Stress and oxidative damage are both known to cause cognitive decline and eventually dementia, which impedes memory, reasoning, and thinking skills.
Fruits And Vegetables That Are Colorful May Reduce The Risk Of Cognitive Decline
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 5 million adults 65 and over had dementia in 2014. The number of immigrants will rise to nearly 14 million by 2060, according to projections. Dementia can be temporarily alleviated by treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. In order to reduce the risk of developing the condition, lifestyle factors, such as diet, are being researched. Previous research into the connection between flavonoids and reduced brain aging has come up empty, however.
Almost 80,000 middle-aged individuals have been followed for more than 20 years in a new study, and the results show that those who consumed the most flavonoids were less likely to suffer early cognitive decline during later life. Regardless of the factors that contributed to subjective cognitive decline, the group which ate the most flavonoids had a 20% lower risk than the group that ate the least. Researchers published their findings in Neurology.
Powerhouses of antioxidants
According to Harvard University’s Dr. Walter Willett, Ph.D.; flavonoids are powerful brain boosters, especially when it comes to preventing your memory from deteriorating. We are pleased with our results because they demonstrate that dietary changes can help prevent cognitive decline.
Flavonoids appear to provide better protection against cognitive decline than others. The consumption of yellow and orange fruits and vegetables was associated with a 38% reduction in risk due to flavones, which are a type of flavonoid. Studies have shown that anthocyanins, found in blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, reduce the risk of cancer by 24%.
Though other phytochemicals may be involved here, it seems that a colorful diet rich in flavonoids makes sense for promoting brain health in the long term, says Dr. Willett. He added that there is never a wrong time to start, he adds, since we saw protective effects whether people consumed the flavonoids 20 years ago, or had just started to consume them recently.
The subjective decline of cognition
Researchers analyzed longitudinal studies in which the lifestyle and health of volunteers were tracked over several decades. One study involved men, the other women.
One of the largest studies to explore risk factors for chronic disease among women was the Nurses’ Health Study, which was established in 1976. In this study, data were collected from 49,493 women who participated in seven questionnaires about their diet from 1984 through 2006, and from cognitive decline follow-up surveys in 2012 and 2014.
A number of health professionals participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, reporting on dietary data from 27,842 men between 1986 and 2002. In 2008 and 2012, they were assessed for subjective cognitive decline. Some of the questions on cognitive decline were:
- Recent events seem harder to recall than usual for you?
- Because of your memory, are you having trouble following group conversations or TV plots?
- Is it difficult for you to navigate familiar streets?
- A person can suffer cognitive decline and dementia for decades before experiencing any changes in their brain.
- The current state of dementia is not curable, so lifestyle changes are essential to preventing it.
- It has been found that obtaining antioxidants called flavonoids from foods, such as fruits and vegetables, significantly reduces the risk of cognitive decline.