Research conducted by a team from Tufts University and Boston University find that eating certain plants is associated with a meaningful reduction in the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. We’ve referred to research results from the Framingham Heart Study before. It is an ongoing study that began in 1948. It has become the model for similar studies around the world. (At least one, if not more, readers of this newsletter are participants in the study.) Several distinguished scientists were involved in this new analysis of diet and dementia based on Framingham data including Rhoda Au, PhD, and Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University, Research Professor Jeffrey Blumberg of Tufts, and Tufts’ Senior Scientist Paul F. Jacques. The members of the team have published hundreds of studies on health, diet and nutrition.
The analysis focused on consumption of certain fruits and berries and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Some definitions before we dive in: flavonoids are naturally occurring plant compounds that are present in certain fruits, berries, vegetables and other plants. Subsets of flavonoids include anthocyanins and flavonols. Anthocyanins are pigments that create colors in plants from red to blue.
The Framingham heart study provided a good analysis basis with a sample size of 2,801 consisting of 52% female/48% male and an average period under observation of 19.7 years.
When comparing the study participants who ate the most flavonoids to those eating the least, results are noteworthy:
- Low consumption of anthocyanins, present in blueberries and strawberries, was associated with a four-times higher risk of dementia and AD;
- Low consumption of flavonols (sources: apples, pears and tea) was associated with two-times higher risk of dementia and AD.
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