Food for Thought
Food for thought, we are what we eat, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, couch potato, variety is the spice of life. Have you ever thought that maybe there is some real enlightenment to these “food expressions”?
In the Brain & Life Magazine for April/May 2020 there is an article on Foods That May Protect Against Dementia, by Sari Harrar. In this article it states, “ Older adults who munched , crunched, and sipped the most flavonols- beneficial compounds in fruit, vegetables, teas, and wine- were 48% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who consumed the least, according to a January 2019 report in Neurology.” The study’s lead author, Thomas M. Holland, MD, who is a researcher at Rush University in Chicago, states, “ This observational study does not prove cause and effect, but it adds to the idea that food is very important for brain health.
For 3-9 years, Dr Holland and colleagues tracked 921 men and women through yearly cognitive and memory tests and in-person medical exams to diagnose dementia likely caused by Alzheimer’s. These participants showed no signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. Each year the participants filled out food questionnaires that were then used to estimate daily flavonol intake. The results showed those who had consumed at least 15.3 milligrams of flavonols per day had the lowest risk, even after researchers adjusted for exercise levels, education, mentally stimulating activities, and the APOE4 gene, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in late life.15.3 milligrams of flavonols is the amount found in a small leafy green salad, 1 serving of cooked vegetables, or half-cup of berries, a very easy amount to reach each day.
“Flavonols may hold promise for promoting brain health,” says David Seres, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University in New York City. Dr Holland explains, “Flavonols have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help destroy free radicals, which damage cells. Anti-inflammatories reduce inflammation, a natural process that can damage cells if it is overactive or sustained for too long.” Flavonols were found to boost memory and learning and decrease Alzheimer-like brain changes in animal studies.
So as you adopt healthy habits of physical and brain exercise, why don’t you also modify your meals to include more produce and whole grains and less added sugars and saturated fats. To get a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial bio-actives, like flavonol, choose colorful fruits and vegetables, cook with seasonings like dill, oregano, parsley, tarragon, even tea, olive oil, oranges and red wine etc. have many health benefits.
Since you can’t find “Flavonols” listed on the nutrition panels of food, the US Department of Agriculture has given us a list:
Almonds, Apples, dried, Apricots, dried, Arugula, Asparagus
Beet greens, Black beans, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts
Chinese cabbage,Collard greens, Cowpeas,Cranberries
Kale, Kidney beans, Kohlrabi
Pears, dried, Pink beans, Pinto beans
Radicchio, Red cabbage, Rutabaga
Salsa, Scallions, Sour cherries,Spinach, Sun-dried tomatoes, Swiss chard
Watercress, White beans
Have fun eating!