A Colorful Plate of Food: Boosting Brain Function with Flavonoids
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 10, 2023
A new study has discovered a simple yet effective way to improve brain function: consuming a diet rich in flavonoids. According to the study, individuals who include at least half a serving per day of flavonoid-rich foods like strawberries, oranges, peppers, and apples may reduce their risk of cognitive decline by 20%.
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Published in the esteemed medical journal ‘Neurology’, the study delved into various types of flavonoids and their impact on brain health. It revealed that flavones and anthocyanins, two specific types of flavonoids, have the most protective effect.
Flavonoids are natural compounds found in plants that boast powerful antioxidant properties. The study suggests that a deficiency in antioxidants may contribute to cognitive decline as we age.
Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University in Boston emphasized the significance of flavonoids, stating, “There is mounting evidence suggesting flavonoids are powerhouses when it comes to preventing cognitive decline. Our results are exciting because they show that making simple changes to your diet could help prevent cognitive decline.”
The study involved 49,493 women with an average age of 48 and 27,842 men with an average age of 51. Over a span of 20 years, participants completed questionnaires about their food consumption frequency. By multiplying the flavonoid content of each food by its frequency, researchers calculated the intake of different types of flavonoids.
Twice during the study, participants evaluated their own cognitive abilities through self-assessment questions. These questions were designed to capture early memory problems that individuals may notice themselves, even if they do not necessarily warrant medical screening.
The group that consumed the highest amount of flavonoids, approximately 600 mg per day on average, had a 20% lower risk of self-reported cognitive decline compared to the lowest flavonoid consumers who consumed about 150 mg per day. For reference, strawberries contain about 180 mg of flavonoids per 100g serving, while apples have approximately 113 mg.
Interestingly, the researchers also examined individual flavonoids. They discovered that flavones, present in certain spices and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, exhibited the strongest protective qualities. Consuming flavones was associated with a remarkable 38% reduction in the risk of cognitive decline, which is roughly equivalent to being three to four years younger.
Peppers contain around 5 mg of flavones per 100g serving. Furthermore, anthocyanins, found in blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, were linked to a 24% reduced risk of cognitive decline. Blueberries boast approximately 164 mg of anthocyanins in a 100g serving.
Dr. Willett concluded by recommending a colorful diet rich in flavonoids for long-term brain health. He highlighted the benefits of consuming at least half a serving per day of foods such as orange juice, oranges, peppers, celery, grapefruits, grapefruit juice, apples, and pears. The protective effects of flavonoids were observed whether individuals had been incorporating them into their diet for the past 20 years or had recently started.
So, if you’re looking to give your brain a boost, consider adding more color to your plate with flavonoid-rich foods!