A diet low in this key nutrient could be linked to age-related memory loss

Adding flavanols to your diet could help with memory, a new study shows.

Adding flavanols to your diet could help with memory, a new study shows.

Adding flavanols to your diet could help with memory, a new study shows.

Adding flavanols to your diet could help with memory, a new study shows.

Blackberries, cherries, apples and apricots may already be part of your diet. If not, a new study may convince you to add them.

The study, conducted by Columbia University researchers and published in the scientific journal PNAS last month, found that foods high in flavanols like the ones mentioned above might make your mind sharper as you age.

Flavanols (also known as flavan-3-ols) are a type of flavonoid, a larger class of naturally occurring substances which are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, flowers, tea and wine and are acclaimed for their antioxidant and biochemical properties. Flavonoids are associated with health-promoting effects, including potential reduction in the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.

The study built on 15 years of previous cumulative research in mice and humans that found that flavanols can improve memory in mice by enhancing the growth of neurons and blood vessels in the hippocampus, a brain structure associated with memory and activity. ‘learning.

The new data in humans on a low flavanol diet suggested that deficiency could be a driving factor in memory loss, especially for people over the age of 60. That Diet patterns and quality can influence cognitive aging.

It’s also important to note that adding flavanols to a diet only improved memory in people on low-flavanol diets. People who already consumed foods and drinks with high levels of flavanols weren’t affected by an increase in the nutrient.

Why flavonoids are important for cognitive function and how to tell if you have low levels

Nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as flavanoids are associated A reducing the risk of chronic health conditions, including degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

These nutrients may help improve the health of brain regions associated with cognitive function. Nutrients may also promote neurogenesis, or the generation of new neurons, a process that plays a role in preserving cognitive function and repairing damaged brain cells.

Flavonoids also have a positive effect on the brain due to increased cerebral blood flow, Natalia Azad, a nutritionist and certified holistic health instructor based in Los Angeles, told HuffPost.

Improved blood flow to the brain is another benefit of eating fruits and vegetables, Azad said. By improving blood circulation, these compounds ensure a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to support optimal cognitive function and memory.

On the other hand, a diet low in flavonoids can cause a weakening of the immune system, DearClarka certified nutritionist based in Franklin, Tennessee, he told HuffPost.

If cold or viral bugs seem to get you down every time they’re around, consider eating a diet higher in flavonoids, Clark said. Considering that flavonoids give food their color, the best way to evaluate this is by eating a colorful range of food, including five different colors of fruit and vegetables a day in our meal plans or diet.

Common food flavonoids

The Columbia study looked specifically at flavanols, but they’re just one of them you are subclasses of flavonoids: anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, flavanones, flavones and isoflavones.

The nutrients released into the bloodstream from consuming fruits and vegetables can impact your cognitive health, and almost immediately if we’re absorbing them properly and our gut is healthy, Clark said. Some antioxidants target inflammation, and decreasing inflammation can actually improve cognitive health in the long run.


Anthocyanins and related compounds called anthocyanins are common pigments found in fruits and vegetables, particularly for colors such as red, blue and purple. They have been studied for their antioxidant and antimicrobial activities which improve visual and neurological health and disease prevention.

Berries, grapes, tropical fruits, leafy greens, grains and roots have high levels of anthocyanins. Here are some:


The most common types of flavonoids consumed in the American diet are flavan-3-ols, also known as flavanols, found in various beverages, whole and processed foods, herbal remedies and supplements. Flavan-3-ols affect the quality and appearance of food through color, bitterness, acidity and sweetness.

You can increase the amount of flavan-3-ols in your diet help improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Some examples of foods include:


Like other flavonoids, flavonols can be a potential neuroprotective agent against diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, foods that contain flavonols also contain essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, which are critical for optimal brain function, Azad said. B vitamins, including folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 found in green leafy vegetables and legumes, are especially important for maintaining memory and cognitive abilities. Some foods with flavonols include:

  • Blueberries

  • Broccoli

  • Chili Peppers

  • cabbage

  • Parsley

  • Shallot

  • Spinach


This important subgroup of flavonoids is found in vegetables and flowers. They can be found in:

  • Celery

  • Parsley

  • Red peppers

  • Chamomile

  • mint

  • Ginkgo biloba


Flavanones are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including the reduction of redness, swelling and pain in the body. These can be found in:

  • Grapefruit

  • Lemon

  • Orange

  • Pomelo


These plant compounds can protect against age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, bone disease, hormone-dependent cancer and loss of cognitive function. Some foods that contain them are:

In general, Clark said, fruits and vegetables are important to a well-balanced diet and can help prevent disease.

My personal belief and nutritional philosophy has a huge focus on incorporating fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and more to improve immune function, cognitive function, reduce inflammation, improve lymphatic system and even reduce toxic load Clark said. We don’t use them enough.


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