New research has found that flavonols, a large class of compounds present in many fruits and vegetables, may be linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Known for their antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects, animal studies have suggested that they may also help improve memory and learning- key functions put at risk from Alzheimer’s.
For the study, researchers at Rush University Medical Center recruited 921 people with an average age of 81 without Alzheimer’s. Over a period of six years, each person was asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing how often they ate certain foods. This was then put alongside information on their levels of education, time spent engaging in physical activity and time spent pursuing mentally engaging activities including reading and playing games. After pooling this data together, the researchers then compared it to their health records over the same period, in particular looking for possible correlations between diet and lifestyle factors, and the risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
With 220 people having developed Alzheimer’s during the time period, the researchers found that those who consumed the highest amounts of flavonols were 48% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia than people consuming lower quantities. These results remained even after adjustments were made for genetic predisposition and demographic and lifestyle factors as well as other preexisting conditions such as diabetes, previous hard attack, stroke and high blood pressure.
In the research, the scientists categorized the flavonols into four types: isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin. In particular, they found that those with high intakes of isorhamnetin were 37% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without. Similar results were found for those with high consumption of myricetin. Meanwhile, those with high intakes of kaempferol were 51% less likely to develop the condition, whereas quercetin had no association with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
Author of the study, Thomas M. Holland from Rush University in Chicago said, “More research is needed to confirm these results, but these are promising findings...Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea could be a fairly inexpensive and easy way for people to help stave off Alzheimer’s dementia.”