Foods like Kale linked to lower dementia risk

29 January 2020

US researchers have today (Wednesday 29 January) found a link between consuming flavonols – chemicals present in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – and the risk of dementia. The findings are published in the scientific journal, Neurology.

Diet and dementia, the previous evidence

Previous research on the links between diet and dementia risk has shown mixed results. Some observational studies have linked specific components of diet to a reduced dementia risk, but it is not clear that any of these hold a particular benefit.

What did the researchers do in this study?

Researchers looked at 921 study volunteers. They asked participants to self-report what foods they ate and how often over the previous year.

From this information, they calculated the amount of four types of flavanols present in the volunteer’s diet.

What was the link in this study?

Study volunteers who had a higher intake of certain – but not all – flavonols had a reduced risk of developing dementia.

What our expert said:

Dr James Connell, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Understanding how our behaviours affect our brain health is important, as there may be lifestyle factors we can change to help support healthy ageing.

“While this research highlights a possible link between flavonols, often found in tea and certain fruits and vegetables, and a lower dementia risk, it doesn’t tell us about cause and effect. This study relied on people self-reporting their eating habits, and this can lead to mistakes in reporting and a tendency to underestimate unhealthy behaviours.

“While we don’t know whether flavonols could have any particular effect on dementia risk, a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help to support a healthy brain. As well as a balanced diet, the best evidence suggests that controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, drinking within the recommended limits, and staying mentally and physically active can all help us to maintain a healthy brain as we age.”

Neurology: Dietary flavonols and risk of Alzheimer dementia