According to a new study, consuming a flavanol-rich diet may benefit people as it can reduce memory loss.
Consuming a flavanol-rich diet comprised of things such as apples, berries, and tea may aid in reducing the risk of developing age-related memory loss, according to the research conducted in a recent study.
Food manufacturer Mars funded the study, and the findings of the three-year study of 3,562 people aged around 71 were published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently.
Study of thousands of people with high regular flavanol consumption – a three-year study
As part of the study, scientists randomly assigned healthy adults to receive either a placebo for three years or a daily 500 mg flavanol supplement. Participants also took part in many memory tests during the study period and filled in surveys to assess their diet.
Memory scores improved only slightly for the group taking the flavanol pill. However, those with poor diets and low flavanol consumption pre-study within that group saw their memory scores increase by an impressive 10.5% compared with the placebo group.
This also marked a 16% increase compared with their levels at the beginning of the study.
The benefits of a flavanol-rich diet – may reduce risk of memory loss
The study’s findings showed that consuming a supplement of approximately 500 mg of flavanols daily could positively reverse the negative effect on memory function that a low flavanol intake has on older people.
The study also showed that people with a high level of regular flavanol consumption tended to have a better hippocampal memory function, which includes short-term memory-making, compared to those with a low level of flavanol consumption regularly.
Lead scientist Scott Small, professor of neurology at Columbia University said that the findings formed part of an ever-increasing body of research. “[The research] is starting to reveal that different nutrients are needed to fortify our ageing minds”, he said.
Gunter Kuhnle, the professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading and the co-investigator of the study, said that the results “suggest that there is an optimum amount of flavanols in the diet” – a daily intake of approximately 500 mg.
Are flavanol supplements good for older people? – opinion is divided
It should be noted, however, that opinion remains divided on the question of the suitability of flavanol supplements for older people.
Researchers quickly stressed that the supplements have no effect on people who do not already possess a flavanol deficiency.
The fact then that the majority of older people in the UK tend to, on average, already consume high amounts of flavanols through things such as berries, apples, and cups of tea would suggest that flavanol supplements would be of no benefit to them.
David Curtis, an honorary professor at the UCL Genetics Institute, was unconvinced by the study. He said, “Those taking a flavanol supplement for years had about the same memory function as those taking placebo and any differences were well within chance expectation.
“The study fails to provide evidence that increasing flavanol intake is beneficial and there is no need for anybody to contemplate changing their diet in the light of its findings”. Doubtless, there remains a lot of work to be carried out.