Plants are loaded with naturally occurring chemicals that appear to help health. And high, long-term intakes of certain kinds of plant chemicals called flavonoids are associated with a reduced risk for developing dementia, according to a study published online April 22, 2020, by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers evaluated the health information of 2,800 dementia-free people (average age 59) who periodically underwent physical exams, had lab tests, and answered diet questionnaires. After 20 years, people who had reported the highest flavonoid intake were about 40% less likely to develop dementia, compared with people who'd reported the lowest intake. There are many different types of flavonoids; those with the greatest link to lower dementia risk came from tea, apples, pears, blueberries, and strawberries. A high intake was about the same as having 7.5 cups of berries, eight apples or pears, and 19 cups of tea per month. A low intake was about the same as having no berries or tea and less than two apples per month. The study was observational and doesn't prove that high flavonoid intake protected people from developing dementia. But researchers say other evidence suggests flavonoids may ward off brain inflammation and protect brain cells.
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