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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures
January 30, 2020
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Flavonol may reduce Alzheimer’s dementia risk

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures
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Photo of Thomas M. Holland
Thomas M. Holland

Eating more foods with flavonol, an antioxidant found in most fruits, vegetables and teas, could reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s dementia, according to research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“With this research, we are understanding that it’s the entire composition of the food, inclusive of bioactives, like flavonols, along with the vitamins and minerals that render these foods as beneficial,” Thomas M. Holland, MD, faculty member in the College of Health Sciences at Rush University, told Healio Primary Care. “As our knowledge of the disease process of Alzheimer’s dementia expands and we recognize that it is multifactorial, we should prepare ourselves as best we can with multiple, scientifically based tools to help stave off the progression with an eye toward the ultimate goal of prevention.”

Researchers evaluated 921 participants (mean age, 81.2 years) from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing community-based cohort of older adults living in the Chicago area who did not have dementia at enrollment. Each year, participants are asked to complete food frequency questionnaires that assess their past-year intake of 144 food items, according to the study authors. Participants were followed for an average of 6 years.

The researchers divided the participants into five groups based on their intake of flavonol. They said the average flavonol intake in the United States is 16 mg to 20 mg per day; in the study, the lowest intake group consumed an average of 5.3 mg per day, whereas the highest intake group consumed an average 15.3 mg per day.

Photo of salad 
Eating more foods with flavonol, an antioxidant found in most fruits, vegetables and teas, could reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s dementia, according to research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Source: Adobe Stock

In their analysis, researchers examined Alzheimer’s risk with intake of four specific flavonols: kaempferol, which is found in kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli; myricetin, which is in tea, wine, kale, oranges and tomatoes; isorhamnetin, which is in pears, olive oil, wine and tomato sauce; and quercetin, which is found in tomatoes, kale, apples and tea.

According to Holland and colleagues, 220 participants developed Alzheimer’s dementia.

They found that after adjusting for genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors, those in the highest total flavonol intake group had a 48% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia compared with those in the first quintile (HR = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33-0.84).

Alzheimer dementia risk was 51% lower in those with the highest kaempferol intake (HR = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.31-0.77), 38% lower in those with the highest myricetin intake (HR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.4-0.97) and 38% lower in those with the highest isorhamnetin intake (HR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.39-0.98) compared with the lowest consumers. Quercetin was not associated with a lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s dementia.

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Holland noted that although it would be best to for people to follow a healthy diet their whole life to improve Alzheimer’s dementia risk, the study results suggest that 6 years is a “substantial start.”

“We suggest eating roughly a serving of green leafy vegetables and other vegetables per day along with a serving of berries a majority of the week,” Holland explained. “Inclusion of fish [once per] week and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per week is also going to add to the total number of flavonols.” – by Erin Michael

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.