If you ever needed another reason to eat your fruits and vegetables, the most recent study from the American Academy of Neurology gives us yet another reason we should make vegetables, fruits, and tea a top dietary resolution.
Memory loss can be a normal part of the aging process, but it can swing into extreme decline when high levels of inflammation and other risk factors are present. One of the most important way to combat memory decline and preserve memory while aging is related to diet, specifically a diet high in flavonols. Flavonols belong to the group of flavonoids which are found in plants and are responsible for the pigments we see in fruits and vegetables.
Flavonols may hold the key when it comes to fighting age-related cognitive declines. On average, US adults consume 16-20 mg of flavonols per day, but most people in the study received between 5 mg and 15 mg daily (about one cup of green leafy vegetables).
The four most important flavonols present in food are quercetin (found in apples, tea, tomatoes, and some dark leafy greens like kale), isorhamnetin (found in olive oil, tomato sauce, and pears), kaempferol (broccoli, spinach, tea, kale, beans), and myricetin (found in oranges and tomatoes).
Over 900 senior adults with an average age of 81 were studied for approximately 7 years, participating in annual food questionnaires, memory tests, and reports about both mental and physical exercise. They were then divided into groups based on how much flavonol consumption was present in their diets, and assigned a score based on overall cognitive ability which included a range from positive (for people with no cognitive decline) to negative (people with significant memory and cognitive declines).
Those people who had the highest flavonol intake slowed down their rate of memory decline by about 0.4 units each decade. In addition, those who ate higher levels of quercetin, myricetin, and kaempferol had the most impressive reduction in memory loss per decade. The high levels of antioxidants and the ability of the flavonols to promote a better response to inflammation is one of the key reasons why this type of diet works for the brain.
Thomas Monroe Holland, Puja Agarwal, Yamin Wang, et al. Association of Dietary Intake of Flavonols With Changes in Global Cognition and Several Cognitive Abilities. Neurology, 2022; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000201541 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000201541