Healthy Living

7 Foods To Eat To Lower Dementia Risk

Having trouble thinking, recognizing or remembering something? Then it could be a sign of dementia, the risks of which increase over time. Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a single disease, but an overall general term for a group of disorders characterized by abnormal brain changes that trigger a decline in thinking skills, which are severe enough to affect daily life and function, as well as behavior, feelings and relationships.

Although there are many forms of dementia, its most common form is Alzheimer's disease. Characterized by a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills, it contributes up to 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, and is a leading cause of death in America.

Fortunately, there are many ways to lower dementia risk, and one of them is a simple, age-old solution: eating fruits and vegetables of all varieties. Although they are known for being packed with an array of nutrients that are beneficial for the body, one study concluded that they are also capable of reducing risk of dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease.

The study, which was published in the American Academy of Neurology's medical journal Neurology, focused on dietary intake of antioxidant flavonols, phytochemical compounds found in plant pigments that are known for their health benefits. The authors found that those who consume food with antioxidant flavonols, found in nearly all fruits and vegetables as well as tea, "may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's dementia years later." 

"[Although] more research is needed to confirm these results, these are promising findings" Thomas M. Holland, study author from Rush University in Chicago, said, adding that eating more fruits and vegetables is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to stave off Alzheimer's disease, especially as the elderly population increases worldwide. "Any decrease in the number of people with this devastating disease, or even delaying it for a few years, could have an enormous benefit on public health."

Flavonols contain four essential compounds, three of which were found to significantly reduce Alzheimer's risk at varying rates in the study. While high intakes of isorhamnetin and myricetin reduce dementia risk by 38 percent each, a high intake of kaempferol does the job by 51 percent. The fourth compound, quercetin, was not linked to lowered dementia risk.

Consumption of the following flavonol-rich foods will reduce risk of dementia:

  1. Pears - contains isorhamnetin
  2. Oranges - contains myricetin
  3. Tomatoes - contains myricetin 
  4. Broccoli - contains kaempferol
  5. Wine - contains both isorhamnetin and myricetin
  6. Tea - contains both kaempferol and myricetin
  7. Kale - contains both kaempferol and myricetin

dementia Dementia affects millions of people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Photo courtesy of Pixabay