Dementia: Opting for fruit of two colours may offer the ‘strongest protective effect’

The rising prevalence of dementia is increasing pressure on over-stretched health bodies. Efforts to lower the risk, however, can be made at all stages of life. According to one expert, a key preventive measure may be opting for fruits of a certain colour.

According to the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), eating foods with flavonoids can help keep the mind sharp.

Flavonoids are potent antioxidants found in almost all fruits and vegetables.

They comprise several subtypes of pigment responsible for giving plant-based foods their colour.

Anthocyanin – the most common class of flavonoids – is typically found in fruits that are red, blue, yellow or orange in colour.

READ MORE: Dementia: New study says Alzheimer’s is caused by neuronal damage, not plaque

There is evidence the latter two offer the best protection against dementia.

Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH, said in 2021: “The underlying process related to cognitive decline starts in early adult life, and probably even earlier. Thus, I don’t think we can start too soon.”

Several studies support the idea that dementia can be prevented or delayed by opting for colourful food.

“There is mounting evidence suggesting flavonoids are powerhouses when it comes to preventing your thinking skills from declining as you get older,” noted professor Willett.

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According to several studies, regular consumption of flavonoids could lower the risk of dementia by as much as 48 percent.

The chemicals offer a wealth of benefits that can help prolong brain health.

It is believed they help the brain in several ways, but three mechanisms, in particular, have captivated scientists.

A number of animal studies have suggested flavonoids block the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.

This toxic protein is often found lodged between the neurons of patients with dementia, thwarting communication between brain cells.

The main, and arguably most beneficial quality of flavonoids is their ability to reduce cell damage from free radicals.

This can help soothe inflammation – a precursor for diseases of all kinds, but particularly those that involve degeneration of the brain.

Finally, a third key attribute is the enhancement of blood flow to the brain, which boosts oxygen levels and prevents cell death.

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