RUSH Research Suggests Link Between Flavonols, Staving Off Dementia

Coverage appears on CNN, hundreds of other outlets
Leafy greens

New research at RUSH continues to build off a legacy of work examining the association between cognition and Alzheimer’s dementia and flavonoids.

Published on Nov. 22 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, the study suggests dietary intake of total flavonols and several flavonol constituents may be associated with slower decline in global cognition and multiple cognitive abilities with older age. Foods containing flavonols include leafy vegetables, apples, broccoli and berries.

The study was conducted using 961 participants of the RUSH Memory and Aging Project — ages 60 to 100 — and followed a cohort of Chicagoans for an average of 6.9 years. The diet of participants was assessed on an ongoing basis, along with an annual cognitive performance evaluation consisting of 19 standardized tests. Researchers concluded that higher dietary intake of total flavonols and flavonol constituents was associated with a slower rate of decline in global cognition and multiple cognitive abilities.

“It’s exciting that our study shows making specific diet choices may lead to a slower rate of cognitive decline,” Dr. Thomas Holland, an assistant professor in the RUSH Institute for Healthy Aging in the department of internal medicine at RUSH, said in a news release issued by Neurology. “Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way for people to take an active role in maintaining their brain health.”

The results proved exciting for news outlets around the globe, with more than 300 newspapers, websites and broadcast media sharing the story. Among the largest were CNN, MSN, Daily Mail, Newsweek and The New York Times.

Holland noted that the study shows an association between higher amounts of dietary flavonols and slower cognitive decline but does not prove that flavonols directly cause a slower rate of cognitive decline. Other limitations of the study are that the food frequency questionnaire, although valid, was self-reported, so people may not accurately remember what they eat.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging and the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Related Stories