According to Bupa, as we get older, we lose our memory naturally and if managed properly, this isn’t something to be too concerned about. Age-related memory loss is different to dementia as it’s far less detrimental and happens at a much slower, more natural pace over time but of course, that doesn’t make the prospect of losing memories any less intimidating.
However, a study led by researchers at Columbia University and Brigham Women’s Hospital/Harvard has found that a diet low in flavanols - nutrients found in certain fruits and vegetables - drives age-related memory loss.
The study found that flavanol intake among older adults tracks with scores on tests designed to detect memory loss due to normal aging and that replenishing these bioactive dietary components in mildly flavanol-deficient adults over age 60 improves performance on these tests.
The three-year study of 3,562 people found that high flavanol consumption had better hippocampal memory function – which is responsible for short-term memory making, than those with lower flavanol consumption.
The researchers suggest taking a 500mg supplement of flavanols daily to try and reverse the negative impact on memory function of low flavanol intake in older people.
However, if you’re not one for supplements or would prefer to add these to your diet a little more naturally, a diet inclusive of foods high in flavanols might be a better choice for you. Thankfully, lots of our everyday foods fit this bill and even some treats like red wine do, too!
Foods High In Flavanols
According to Healthline, these foods contain high levels of flavanols:
- Red wine
- Spring onions
A Balanced Diet Is Best, According To Experts
Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Researchers at Alzheimer’s UK said, “People should be able to get enough flavanols from a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruit and vegetables. While we do not yet know for sure whether flavanols specifically influence risk of conditions like dementia, we do know that things like staying mentally sharp, keeping socially connected, and keeping our heart healthy – including by eating a balanced diet – are important for looking after our long-term brain health.”
Professor Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow added, “People should not rush to such drinks or diets but rather keep doing the things that we 100% know protect against many illnesses – eat better (and fewer calories if overweight), walk a little more and sleep well and have traditional risk factors tested and, if needed, improved.”