Nutrition matters, especially when it comes to the long-term health of your brain. According to a study recently published in Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal, a diet rich in the antioxidant flavonol can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 48 percent. Conducted by Rush University Medical Center researchers, the study found that higher levels of flavonols in the diet was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing the disease, even after adjusting for other contributing factors.
Followed 991 People for Average of Six Years
The average age of the participants was 81 years old. Researchers divided the 991 people into five groups according to the amount of flavonol in their diets. The people in the group with the highest flavonol intake averaged 15.3 mg per day, with the lowest group averaging just 5.3 mg. Of the 991 people, 220 did develop Alzheimer’s. That included 15 percent of the group with the highest daily flavonol intake and 30 percent of the group consuming the least.
Three Types of Flavonols Associated With Lower Risk
Flavonols are among the phytochemicals that help make up the pigment in plants. According to the study, different types of flavonols were associated with different rates of reduced risk. With a high kaempferol intake, people were 51 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Foods rich in kaempferol include broccoli, spinach, beans, kale and tea. High levels of isorhamnetin and myricetin both were associated with a 38 percent lower Alzheimer’s risk. Tomato sauce, olive oil, wine and pears are great sources for isorhamnetin. For myricetin, enjoy kale, oranges, tea and wine.
Broaden Culinary Horizons for Brain Health
With these flavonol rich foods in mind, consider the culinary traditions of other nations with a far lower Alzheimer’s death rate than that of the United States. The American Alzheimer’s/Dementia death rate of 44.41 per 100,000 is the 8th highest in the world. Italy, with its olive oil, wine, tomatoes, beans and greens, has a rate of 19.81.
Jamaica has a rate of 6.28, Columbia’s rate is 2.42 and the Mexican rate is 3.62. The traditional cuisines of all three of those nations feature a wide variety of beans and richly pigmented fruits and vegetables. There’s more of a focus on whole, real foods, a focus that is seriously lacking in the highly processed, boxed, canned and frozen food diet of the average American.
It’s All About Real Food
Nutrition has real power when it comes to health, not that Big Pharm wants you to know that. The body of clinical research supporting the preventative powers of real food nutrition has been steadily growing for decades. Supplements are not, however, the same as real food. In the same way that baby formula makers simply cannot copy human breast milk, lab created nutritional supplements can’t capture the nutritional nuances of real food, like phytochemicals. One of the best things you can do to improve your health, brain and otherwise, is to reduce – eliminate is better – the processed foods in your daily diet.