A recent study suggests that people who eat a diet rich in flavanols, found in tea, apples and berries, may be less likely to experience age-related memory loss.
A three-year study of 3,562 people aged about 71 found that those who had regular consumption of flavanols had better hippocampal memory function, which includes short-term memory making, than those who didn't.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that supplementing with 500 mg of flavanols per day could address the negative effect on memory function caused by low intake of flavanols in the elderly.
However, the researchers confirmed that flavanol supplementation had no effect on people who did not have a flavanol deficiency.
Lead researcher Scott Small, professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, said the findings are part of a growing body of research that is "beginning to reveal that different nutrients are needed to strengthen our aging brains".
The team randomly gave healthy adults either a 500 mg flavanol supplement per day or a dummy pill for three years. Participants underwent several memory tests during the study period and filled out questionnaires that assessed their diet.
The researchers said that memory scores improved only slightly for the group that took flavanols, but within this group there was a subset of people with malnutrition and low consumption of flavanols at the start of the study, who saw their memory scores increase by an average of 10.5% compared to those with lower levels of flavanol intake. placebo, and by 16% compared to the beginning of the study.
The study, funded by food manufacturer Mars, used flavanols extracted from cocoa, although the study authors said eating chocolate is unlikely to provide adequate levels of flavanols, as they are destroyed during processing.
Researchers are divided on whether the study shows that flavanol supplementation is a good idea for older adults.
Professor Aidan Cassidy, Head of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine at Queen's University Belfast, said the study was "really important", especially since the dose needed to improve brain health "is easily achievable. For example, one cup of tea, six squares of dark chocolate, Two servings of berries and an apple together provide about 500 mg of flavanols."
David Curtis, professor emeritus at University College London's Genetic Institute, said the study showed that "those taking flavanol supplements for years had the same memory function as those taking a placebo and any differences were in the predictive range of chance."
Carl Hodgetts, senior lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at Royal Holloway, University of London, said research into the relationship between nutrition and the brain could help combat dementia.
He described the study as "interesting" and "begins to address such questions", but disagreed with the conclusion that flavanol supplementation affected hippocampal function, which would require investigations such as MRI scans to prove this.
The results of this study show the importance of diet as a factor supporting cognitive health later in life, although more studies are needed to explore the benefits of flavanol supplementation in depth.
Source: The Guardian - Published by RT - https://ar.rt.com/veoo