Some vegetables and fruits have been found to improve memory functions! Which ones are effective? ‘Everyone from 7 to 70 should add them to their daily diet’
A new study in the US found that ‘flavonoids’ in some fruits and vegetables improve memory functions in the brain and reduce age-related mental decline. So which fruits and vegetables are good for memory? How often should they be consumed? Experts told hurriyet.com.tr.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in many plants that give vegetables and fruits their colors. Some experts even call flavonoids ‘vitamin P’.
Flavanoids are divided into different structures with molecular compounds in their basic structure. These compounds are grouped as flavanols, flavonels, flavones, catechins, anthocyanins and isoflavonoids. Today, there are more than 4 thousand flavonoids known in foods. All of them are thought to have various health benefits and have been studied for many years.
A new study conducted in the USA focused on flavanols. The antioxidant components of flavanols were found to improve memory functions in the brain and reduce age-related mental decline.
In the study conducted jointly by Columbia University and Brigham & Young Women’s Hospital, 3,500 subjects were given 500 milligrams of flavanol pills or placebo daily for three years.
In the study, which observed that the vocabulary and thinking speed of the subjects given flavanol pills improved, it was revealed that flavanol slowed down age-related memory problems and increased memory capacity.
‘THIS IS AN EXCITING RESULT’
Prof. Dr. Adam M. Brickman, one of the authors of the study, said, “While the mental improvement was observed in participants with low flavanol levels in their bodies, we also found that flavanol-dense dietary habits significantly improved cognitive functions in older people.”
Co-author Scott A. Small pointed out that the way to protect aging minds in this century, where life expectancy is gradually increasing, is through different nutrients, and said that their research could be an example for new studies.
Gunter Kuhnle, professor of food science at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and co-author of the study, told the New York Post, “These are exciting results. Because it shows how important it is to have the optimum amount of flavanols in the diet.”
‘IT IMPROVES MEMORY BY INCREASING THE GROWTH OF NEURONS’
Neurology Specialist Doctor Faculty Member Yıldız Kaya, who I consulted about how flavanol-intensive nutrition has a positive effect on memory, said, “Age-related memory disorders are linked to changes in the ‘dentate gyrus’ region in the hippocampus, which is involved in learning, storage of information and consolidation of memory in the brain. Flavanols increase blood supply, vascular nutrition and the growth of neurons in this region, thus strengthening memory. However, they have little effect on other brain regions involved in memory.” Kaya continued as follows:
“With aging, forgetfulness and memory defects are inevitable. This recent study shows us that even starting flavanol intake in diets in the 40s and 50s provides improvement in memory. This is a very important finding… For this reason, every person in society, especially those with a family history of dementia, should eat a diet rich in these foods.”
Other studies have shown that flavonoid intake is protective against cancer and heart disease. The study, which followed 53,000 Danes for 23 years, found that individuals who took moderate or high amounts of flavonoids were less likely to die from heart disease and cancer. There are other studies that support these findings.
WHAT ARE THE FOODS CONTAINING FLAVONOIDS?
I asked Nutrition and Diet Specialist Müzeyyen Çelik, “Which foods are flavonoid-dense?” She listed the following details:
— Flavanols, flavonels and flavones are usually found in fruits and vegetables. The best sources are parsley, thyme, onions, broccoli, apples, cherries, blackberries and citrus fruits. The most important biological properties of these compounds are that they act as antioxidants. They are the most important walls against diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammation.
— Those containing catechins inhibit tumor formation, the spread of bacteria and viruses, and cell growth. It also protects the body from the effects of inflammatory reactions. The best sources are green tea, black tea, berries such as cherries, mulberries, blackberries, raspberries.
— Consuming foods containing anthocyanins can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes in the future. Insulin is a hormone that helps lower blood sugar. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin is either insufficient or unavailable. Anthocyanin can improve the body’s ability to secrete insulin. The best sources are berries such as black elderberries, cherries, blackberries, currants, strawberries.
— Finally, isoflavones are powerful antioxidant compounds that contain carbon. Isoflavones are found especially in soybeans and soybean-containing products. Flaxseed, rye bran and strawberries also contain isoflavones.
Çelik also said that apart from all these products, foods we consume daily such as peanuts, mustard, rice, sesame seeds, olives, potatoes and oats also contain flavonoids.
‘IT IS IMPORTANT TO ADD 1-2 SERVINGS OF FRUIT CONTAINING FLAVONOIDS TO THE DAILY DIET’
“The amount of flavonoids in foods varies depending on some factors,” said Müzeyyen Çelik, “Daily intake amounts were determined as 23 mg/day-28 mg/day in different studies. Even adding 1-2 servings of fruit containing flavonoids to the daily diet will be sufficient. It should be taken into consideration that excessive consumption will ultimately increase fructose sugar intake and may have an elevating effect on blood sugar.”
Çelik said, “Flavonoids, which have many protective and regulatory effects in the body, should be added to the daily diet of everyone from 7 to 70. Especially people with high cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular diseases should take care to consume foods containing flavonoids regularly.”