Antioxidants are nutrients found naturally in foods that help protect against free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules that cause cell damage and can contribute to aging and disease.
There are two main categories of antioxidants: vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, C, E, and K are called fat-soluble vitamins because they need fat to be absorbed into the body. These vitamins are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and iodine are water-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are found mostly in lean meats, fish, beans, and dairy products.
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are important molecules in herbal medicine that come from plant metabolism, they are found in different parts of the plant at the level of fruits, flowers or leaves. Scientists have already identified more than 8,000 different flavonoids, these molecules belong to the large family of phenolic compounds. They have antioxidant properties. Foods enriched in flavonoids are tea (particularly green tea), red fruits, olive oil, garlic, dark chocolate, grapes and vines, spinash, broccoli and onion.
Antioxidant flavonoids can prevent memory decline
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied more than 960 people with an average age of 81 and found that those who ate foods containing antioxidant flavonoids, found in plant pigments, were healthier.
Specifically, participants who consumed the most kaempferol, found in kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli, had a 0.4 unit slower rate of cognitive decline per decade compared to those in the lowest group.
And those who consumed the most quercetin, from sources such as tomatoes, kale, apples and tea, had a slower rate of cognitive decline of 0.2 units per decade.
Consuming wine, kale, oranges, and tomatoes has also been shown to be beneficial.
These results were confirmed by other previous studies
The researchers studied 1,924 people aged 65 and older who were enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. They looked at how many times each person ate or drank fruit and vegetable servings per day and whether they had high blood levels of antioxidants. After about four years, the participants took tests to measure their cognitive function. Those who ate or drank more fruit and vegetables had better memory than those who didn’t.
The researchers analyzed data on 2,977 people aged 65 and older who were enrolled in the Health ABC Study. They looked at how much fruit and vegetable intake participants had over the course of five years. Participants who ate the most antioxidants were about half as likely to develop dementia compared to those who ate the least amount of these nutrients.
The study looked at data on 2,000 people over age 65 who were followed for four years. They found that those who ate or drank more antioxidants had better cognitive function than those who didn’t.