Posted by Scott Elliott, Public Affairs Specialist, Agricultural Research Service Office of Communications in Research and Science
Jul 08, 2021
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 or older live with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is projected to nearly triple by 2160. Fortunately, USDA-funded research may have found a tasty way to slow disease onset.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that diets high in flavonoids may protect cognitive health. Flavonoids are plant nutrients known for their antioxidant, antiviral, and anticancer properties and are found in berries, tea, dark chocolate, and other foods.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a significant public health challenge,” said Paul Jacques, nutritional epidemiologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. “Given the absence of drug treatments, preventing Alzheimer’s disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration.”
Jacques’s study, which followed 2,809 people for nearly 20 years, revealed that diets high in fruits and vegetables showed significant promise to quell the onset of Alzheimer’s.
“Our study showed that individuals with the highest intakes of flavonoids were more than 50% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, relative to those with the lowest intakes,” he said. “Plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are good sources of flavonoids.”
According to Jacques, flavonoid-rich diets help more than just Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
“The bottom line is that there are many reasons to consume a healthy diet, including lower risks of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. We can now add protection of cognitive health and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease to that list.”