Diet high in flavonoids linked with improved memory

28 July 2021

Researchers in the US found that a diet high in flavonoids was associated with better memory. The scientific journal, Neurology, published the findings today (Wednesday 28th July).

What did the researchers look at?

Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and are considered powerful antioxidants.

Food containing high levels of flavonoids include strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, citrus fruit, apples/pears, celery, peppers, and bananas.

Volunteers self-reported what food they ate.

The volunteers evaluated their own memory and thinking twice during the study.

What did the researchers find?

Participants who consumed high levels of flavonoids were less likely to report a decline in memory and thinking later in the study.

What our expert had to say?

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Understanding the different factors that affect our dementia risk is vital for finding new ways to reduce the number of people who develop the condition in the future. While the researchers found that those eating a diet with high levels of flavonoids were less likely to report memory and thinking problems, we should treat these results with caution.

“The study relied on participants accurately filling out a survey about what they ate, rather than having their food intake monitored. What’s more this study didn’t look at dementia, and we can’t know from this research whether a diet high in flavonoids would have any effect in either preventing or delaying the onset of the condition.

“Dementia is caused by a complex mix of age, genetics and lifestyle factors. From this study alone we are unable to untangle diet or a specific food component from other lifestyle factors which contribute to dementia risk.

“While a balanced diet is one way we can help to maintain a healthy brain, the best current evidence points to a number of other lifestyle factors that can also play a role. These include not smoking, staying mentally and physically active, drinking within the recommended guidelines and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check.

“At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we are asking people to think about their brain health and would encourage people to learn more about your incredible brain and the steps you can take to protect it by taking part in our quiz.”

Read more?

You can read the full study in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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