KEY POINTS

  • With the increasing number of older people in the U.S., aging-related health conditions are also on the rise
  • Alzheimer's disease is one of those illnesses that is affecting many of the elderly population
  • Scientists revealed that a low-flavonoid intake is linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer's 

A recent study revealed a link between an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and a low intake of foods that are rich in flavonoids. This could help pave the way for better prevention measures against the dreaded illness.

Health experts predict that the number of people in the U.S. over 65 years old will more than double within 40 years. As a consequence, aging-related health conditions are also on the rise. While Alzheimer’s is rapidly becoming common, its exact cause is still unknown.

There are studies, however, suggesting that diet may play a role. Researchers have also proved that the Mediterranean diet, in particular, is linked to a lower risk of cognitive issues, which include Alzheimer’s. This diet is high in flavonoids, which are naturally-occurring compounds present in various vegetables and fruits, as well as in plant-based drinks like wine and tea. low-flavonoid intake linked to alzheimer's low-flavonoid intake linked to alzheimer's Photo: pixel2013 - Pixabay

Flavonoid-Rich Foods May Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of dementia. Health experts state that by 2050, around 13.8 million people over 65 may be living with the condition in the U.S. While there is no cure for the disease, you can still delay its onset and perhaps even slow down its development.

According to researchers from Tufts University’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Medford, MA, long-term high intake of flavonoid-rich foods like apples, berries, and tea may help. Scientists say consuming these foods in large quantities for a long time lowers your risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease. The results of their study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The Study

Researchers examined the consumption of six different kinds of flavonoids over nearly 20 years among 2,801 volunteers. Scientists measured the flavonoid consumption of the group using dietary questionnaires, which the volunteers filled out approximately every four years. The scientific team also monitored their overall health.

Dr. Paul Jacques, the study’s senior author, and a nutritional epidemiologist, revealed that the study gave them a picture of how the diet might be related to the cognitive decline in a person. He said it helped a lot that they were able to look at the flavonoid intake of the participants over many years before they were diagnosed as suffering from dementia.

A Higher Risk

Of the 2,801 volunteers, 193 developed Alzheimer's disease and related dementias or ADRD and 158 developed Alzheimer’s itself during the research. An examination of the link in the data showed that those who consumed lesser amounts of flavonoids were at two to four times at risk of developing ADRD during the study period.

The study looked at two types of flavonoids - anthocyanins and flavonols. Low anthocyanin intake was also linked to a fourfold greater risk of ADRD, while low consumption of flavonols was linked to twice the risk of developing the disease. Berries are a rich source of anthocyanins, while tea, apples, and pears are good sources of flavonols.