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Flavonoids May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline, Research Shows

Hannah Frye
Author:
December 06, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Image by Cameron Whitman / Stocksy
December 06, 2023

Preventing cognitive decline or delaying its onset starts with the basics: Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and manage your stress levels as much as possible.

If you already have these basics covered, new research suggests one way to take your brain health routine to the next level the next time you visit the grocery store.

How flavonoids impact cognitive health 

The new meta-analysis published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that "Habitual inclusion of flavonoids in the diet may play a preventive role against cognitive disorders1." 

Flavo-what? Flavonoids are a type of chemical compound found in plants. This research analyzed 37 different studies to determine that flavonoids are associated with a 17% lower risk of cognitive decline—with some appearing to be even more beneficial for the brain.

Specifically, anthocyanins and flavones came out on top: Anthocyanins2 (found in foods like berries, currents, grapes, and some tropical fruits) were associated with a 27% lower risk, and flavones3 (found in foods like celery, artichokes, and kumquats) with a 23% lower risk of cognitive decline. 

The reason flavonoids are so great for brain health is multipronged. Researchers suspect flavonoids may be able to enhance brain flow and even block beta-amyloid plaque buildup4 in the brain, the latter a hallmark contributor to Alzheimer's disease. Antioxidants like flavonoids also seem to help protect neurons and glial cells against neurotoxin-induced injury5 thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. 

Now, this doesn't mean flavonoids are the end-all-be-all when it comes to preventing cognitive decline. Consuming a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep6, and managing stress7 should all still be seen as the first steps. 

Much of the research around cause, prevention, and possible treatment for cognitive decline is still in the early stages. However, flavonoids come with a long list of other full-body benefits8, making them worth including in your diet and supplement routine whether you're concerned about cognitive health or not. 

How to get more flavonoids

Below, some ready-to-add grocery list staples rich in 9flavonoids to consider: 

Fruits 

Vegetables

  • Celery 
  • Red peppers
  • Kale
  • Legumes
  • Artichoke

Herbs & beverages

  • Parsley 
  • Chamomile 
  • Mint
  • Red wine

The takeaway

A new analysis study found that consuming flavonoids may play a preventive role against cognitive disorders. Researchers suspect that flavonoids can enhance brain flow and even block beta-amyloid plaque buildup, but more research is needed to confirm the mechanisms behind the benefit. Regardless, flavonoids are beneficial for full-body health. Here, even more brain foods to keep in mind

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