Consuming food items rich in 'flavonols' – a rich source of antioxidants, available in leafy greens, red wine, and citrus fruits – might protect you against diseases like Alzheimer's and age-related dementia in people aged 60-100 years, a new study in Neurology revealed.
What this means: Flavonols are a form of flavonoids found naturally in many fruits and vegetables.
Flavonols are made up of individual compounds, which include two antioxidants that lower the risk of memory decline, quercetin and kaempferol.
The big numbers:
As per the World Alzheimers' Report 2020 published by Alzheimer's Disease International (a World Health Organization-affiliated non-profit association), someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds.
There are over 55 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2020.
This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.
What You Need To Know: The A, B, & C of Flavonols
A for Antioxidants: Flavonols are a major class of flavanoids, a group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that have historically proven to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilation effect on living beings.
B for Breakdown: There are six major subclasses of flavonoids, including flavonols, flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins. Flavonols are constituted significantly by glycosides of four kinds:
Out of these, quercetin and kaempferol are the most commonly found components of flavonols.
Incidentally, these are also the two components that have been linked by the study to cognitive protective ability.
C for Collection: What foods have a high amount of quercetin and kaempferol?
a) quercetin: Citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, tea, and red wine are rich in quercetin. Olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries, are also high in quercetin.
b) kaempferol: Green leafy vegetables, including spinach and kale, and herbs such as dill, chives, and tarragon are good sources of kaempferol. It's also believed that black tea has about 70 percent kaempferol.
The Flip Side:
Now before you jump on the wagon and start having red wine or green tea every other evening, hold on just a moment. The research still has a long way to go.
The study was conducted on 961 participants (60-100 years) of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a prospective cohort of white, highly educated, and community-dwelling people from Chicago who were followed for about 6.9 years.
Reading between the lines
There are quite a number of limitations for now.
The dietary intake was assessed through self-report, which is prone to bias.
The study had a limited geographical area and may not be generalizable for a larger population.
Participants in the study may have experienced a more pronounced cognitive decline due to mild cognitive impairment at their age, causing the inaccurate recall of dietary habits or a change in dietary habits.