Antioxidant flavonols, found in various fruits and vegetables, as well as tea and wine help against memory decline.
According to a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, flavonols, which belong to the group of flavonoids – phytochemicals found in plant pigments – bring various benefits to cognitive abilities that regress due to certain diseases.
The study involved 961 people with an average age of 81, followed for an average of seven years. The researchers asked them to fill out a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods , as well as complete annual memory and cognition tests . They were also asked about other factors, such as education level, time devoted to physical activities, and time devoted to mentally engaging activities, such as reading and games.
People were divided into five equal groups based on the amount of flavonols in their diets. The lowest group had an intake of about 5 mg per day and the highest group consumed an average of 15 mg per day; which is equivalent to about a cup of dark leafy greens.
To determine rates of cognitive decline, the researchers used a global cognition score: average score ranged from 0.5 for people with no thinking problems to 0.2 for people with mild cognitive impairment to -0.5 for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Tea, tomato sauce, wine: the recipe for keeping memory
The researchers found that the cognitive score of people who had the highest intake of flavonols decreased at a rate of 0.4 units per decade more slowly than people who had the lowest intake, confirming the researchers’ hypotheses.
Flavonols are made up of four metabolites: kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin and isoramnetin . Starting from this assumption, the researchers proceeded to make a further grouping: to understand which foods contributed the most for each of the four elements:
tea, wine , cabbage, oranges and tomatoes for myricetin;
cabbage, beans, tea , spinach and broccoli for kaempferol ;
tomatoes, cabbage, apples and quercetin tea ;
pears, olive oil, wine and tomato sauce for isorhamnetin .
People with the highest myricetin intake had a 0.3 unit slower rate of cognitive decline per decade , and people with the highest kaempferol intake had a 0.4 unit slower rate of cognitive decline per decade .
One of the study authors, Thomas M. Holland, comments on the study findings: “It is exciting that our study shows that making specific food choices can lead to a slowing of cognitive decline. Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way to take an active role in maintaining brain health.”
- Association of Dietary Intake of Flavonols with Changes in Global Cognition and Several Cognitive Abilities. (neurology.org)