Next week, perhaps you will display a traditional cornucopia at your Thanksgiving Day feast, as the pilgrims did.
But—here again—I hope you fill your plate year-round with lots of the orange, red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables often featured in the “horn of plenty.”
That’s because a brand-new study just found that you can BLAST away brain decline by filling your plate with a “cornucopia” of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Let me explain…
Colorful plant pigments protect the brain
For this new analysis, researchers followed about 77,000 adults enrolled in the famous U.S. Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professions Follow-up Study for about 20 years. At the study’s outset, the women had an average age of 48, and men had an average age of 51.
Then, over the next 20 years of follow-up, the participants answered questions about their dietary intake of flavonoid-rich foods. (Flavonoids are highly nutritious plant compounds found in bright, colorful fruits and vegetables, including berries, oranges, peppers.)
They found that people in the top group consumed about 600 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids each day. Whereas people in the lowest group consumed about 150 mg of flavonoids each day. (For reference, two-thirds cup of strawberries has about 180 mg of flavonoids.)
In addition, at two different points during the study, the participants also answered questions to assess cognitive decline.
It turns out, the people who consumed more flavonoids had a MUCH LOWER risk of cognitive decline overall. In fact, the people in the group with the highest flavonoid intake had 20 percent lower risk of experiencing cognitive decline than the people in the lowest intake group.
Plus, when the researchers zeroed in specifically on two types of flavonoids, the benefits grew even more impressive…
Two types of flavonoids stood out
One type of flavonoid, called flavones, offered the most potent protection against cognitive decline over the 20-year study. In fact, people who ate the most of them had a 38 percent reduced risk of cognitive decline, which the researchers said equates to roughly a three-to-four-year reduction in brain age! (Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, and some spices, are abundant in flavones.)
In addition, people who consumed the most anthocyanins had a 24 percent reduced risk of cognitive decline. (You find anthocyanins in dark red, blue, and purple fruits—such as blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.)
And perhaps best of all…
The study participants who started eating more flavonoids later in life STILL experienced significant brain protection.
So, in the end, my advice remains the same…
Fill your plate with a “cornucopia” of colorful vegetables
Strive to enjoy a healthy, balanced Mediterranean-type diet filled with a “cornucopia” of colorful fruits and vegetables. And—make a special effort to add lots of yellow, orange, red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables to your plate…including berries (especially blueberries), cherries, citrus fruits, purple onions, red cabbage, sweet bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.
And remember to become your own advocate when it comes to brain health. Because unfortunately, dementia is the most rapidly increasing chronic disease of our time. But there’s plenty you can do to help protect yourself, including following simple lifestyle steps like adopting a healthy, balanced diet.
“Long-term Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Subjective Cognitive Decline in US Men and Women.” Neurology, Sep 2021; 97 (10): e1041-e1056. doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012454