Eating foods high in flavonoids — a group of nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables — may lower your risk for dementia, researchers report.
The study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at 2,801 men and women who were 50 and older and free of dementia at the start. Over an average of 20 years of follow-up, researchers gathered diet information at five periodic health examinations; during that time, 193 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Compared with those in the 15th percentile or lower for flavonoid intake, those in the 60th or higher had a 42 to 68 percent lower risk for dementia, depending on the type of flavonoid consumed.
Intake of one type of flavonoid, anthocyanins, abundant in blueberries, strawberries and red wine, had the strongest association with lowered risk. Apples, pears, oranges, bananas and tea also contributed.
The study controlled for many health and behavioral characteristics, including how strongly participants adhered to the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which in addition to fruits and vegetables emphasize whole grains, lean meats and other heart-healthy foods.
The senior author, Paul F. Jacques, a scientist with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, said that the amount consumed by those who benefited the most was not large. Their monthly average was about seven half-cup servings of strawberries or blueberries, eight apples or pears, and 17 cups of tea.
“It doesn’t take much,” he said. “A couple of servings of berries a week, maybe an apple or two.”