Forgetfulness is not something you’re looking forward to, yet you know it’s likely going to happen. It seems like memory is something that always drops off with age.
But you might not have to experience the worst of memory loss. Although several factors contribute to memory, many of them are within your control. You may not be able to eliminate the risk for memory loss, but you might be able to hold onto more than you think.
Memory has a lot to do with overall health. And you may know that diet plays a major role in health and that the foundation of a healthy diet is a vibrant rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Some of what makes colorful fruit and vegetables so valuable to health are compounds called flavonoids. They often provide the colou to rosy red strawberries, dark green spinach leaves, bright yellow peppers, and deep purple eggplant.
There are six different forms of flavonoids, and all can have potential benefits for memory. They are:
- Flavonols (like quercetin in onion and kale).
- Flavones (like lutein in green chile peppers and celery)
- Flavanones (like naringenin in grapefruit and oranges)
- Flavan-3-ol monomers (like catechins in strawberries and red wine)
- Anthocyanins (like cyandin in blackberries and red cabbage)
- Polymers (like theaflavins in black tea)
A recent study looked at how flavonoid consumption could play a role in memory and protecting cognition.
Researchers from Harvard looked at health data and self-reported diet information of more than 77,000 middle-aged women and me, collected over 20 years. The information included how often participants ate flavonoid-rich foods and whether they reported cognitive changes in their 70s.
They were asked to report on things like:
- Remembering recent events or a shortlist of items
- Remembering things from one second to the next
- Understanding instructions
- Following a group conversation or a TV plot
- Finding their way around familiar streets
After looking at various factors that could impact memory and cognition, scientists found that those with the highest flavonoid intake were 19 percent less likely to report trouble with memory and thinking than those with the least.
The study was only observational, but these results are consistent with findings of flavonoids on other parts of the body. Namely, that they have antioxidant and protective qualities.
Instead of focusing on how many to eat, just be sure you’re regularly consuming colorful fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Five or six servings should do it!