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3 Tasty Foods That Protect The Brain From Ageing

Some foods can keep your brain young.

Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries all reduce cognitive decline related to age, research finds.

All three fruits contain high levels of flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and body.

The research was carried out on data from 121,700 women, who were followed up over decades.

Dr Elizabeth Devore, the study’s first author, said:

“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important.
Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.”

The results showed that high berry intake was linked to a delay in cognitive ageing equivalent to 2.5 years.

In other words: berries made their brains work as though they were 2.5 years younger.

Dr Devore said:

“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”

Berries are also one of the central components in the ‘MIND’ diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blueberries in particular seem to have a powerful effect on the brain.

One recent study looked at the effects of concentrated blueberry juice:

“Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.”

Strawberries also have other research backing up their protective effects, as do walnuts.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology (Devore et al., 2012).

source: PsyBlog


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Flavonoids in Fruits and Veggies May Help Fight Weight Gain With Age

BY LISA RAPAPORT   Thu Feb 25, 2016

(Reuters Health) – Eating lots of fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoid molecules might help adults minimize weight gain as they age, a recent study suggests.

Most plants contain different flavonoids in varying concentrations. Some scientists believe these naturally occurring compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help explain some of the health benefits associated with diets rich in fruits and vegetables.

“We found that increased intake of fruits like apples, berries and grapes was associated with less weight gain and these are high sources of some types of flavonoids,” said lead study author Monica Bertoia of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Not all types of flavonoids, however, were linked to reduced weight gain once researchers accounted for how much fiber people ate, Bertoia added by email.

“The goal of this research is to determine which fruits and vegetables may be best for weight maintenance in order to refine dietary guidelines that currently recommend eating more fruits and vegetables but don’t clearly specify which fruits and vegetables are better than others for the prevention of obesity,” Bertoia said.

To examine the connection between flavonoids and weight, Bertoia and colleagues analyzed survey data on about 124,000 U.S. health professionals collected between 1986 and 2011.

They excluded people with chronic diseases and individuals who were obese at the start of the surveys, and also temporarily dropped data on women when they were pregnant.

Participants reported their weight every two years and completed dietary questionnaires every four years.

Based on what people said they ate, researchers used U.S. Department of Agriculture data on flavonoid content in specific foods to determine how much of these compounds participants consumed.

Across all the studies, half of the participants consumed at least 224 milligrams to 247 milligrams of flavonoids a day.

fruit & vegatables

Over each four year period, people gained an average of 2.2 to 4.4 pounds.

But people with higher than average flavonoid consumption tended to gain slightly less weight, researchers report in The BMJ.

The difference amounted to about one-tenth to three-fifths of a pound over four years for each standard deviation above the average amount of flavonoid consumption.

For example, consuming 7 milligrams more flavonols – a subtype of flavonoids found in tea and onions – than average each day was associated with gaining roughly one-sixth of a pound less weight over four years.

To measure the impact of all flavonoids, researchers adjusted for a wide variety of factors that can influence weight including age, gender, exercise, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sleep and sedentary television time. They also accounted for other things people consumed, such as juices, fried foods, whole versus refined grains, full-fat versus low-fat dairy, sodas, processed versus non-processed meats, trans fats and seafood.

After adjusting for fiber consumption, which may influence weight gain by decreasing how much fat people absorb, only three types of flavonoids were associated with reduced weight gain in the study – anthocyanins, which came mainly from blueberries and strawberries in participants’ daily diets; flavonols and flavonoid polymers, which came mostly from tea and apples.

Other limitations of the study include its reliance on survey participants to accurately report what they ate and how much they weighed, the researchers note. Food questionnaires used in the surveys also may not have captured every dietary source of flavonoids.

Still, the findings suggest that choosing high flavonoid fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, berries and peppers may help with weight control, the authors conclude.

It’s also possible, however, that people who eat more fruits and vegetables may have an easier time with weight management because they consume a healthier diet and eat fewer calories, noted Samantha Heller, a registered dietician and exercise physiologist affiliated with New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

“When we frontload our diet with plant based foods such as berries and peppers, we crowd out less healthy options like French fries and burgers,” Heller, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “It could also be that these people are more health conscious than others.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1ORjhga     The BMJ, online January 28, 2016.     Reuters


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What is a Flavonoid?

These star ingredients in fruits and veggies are potent disease fighters.

By: Jennifer Nelson     Tue, Nov 06, 2012

Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties found in many fruits and vegetables like blueberries and grapes. They serve a variety of functions such as protecting blood vessel walls in people who have heart disease or diabetes, alleviating allergies, protecting brain health against dementia and even preventing some cancers.

Flavonoids or bioflavonoids — another word for the same compounds — have medicinal properties that include the ability to defend against cancer, viruses, not to mention anti-microbial, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

Where to find the flavonoids?

“The best ones are blueberries, chocolate and green tea,” says Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, a naturopathic physician and author of “Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine.”

“Blueberry and pomegranate open blood vessels and help circulation, which helps with everything from diabetes to heart disease and even improves libido.”

Blueberries: Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that can help support blood vessel walls and play a role in protecting the brain from oxidative stress, which is important in treating the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and many other conditions. Blueberries also contain a compound known as D-mannose, which can help prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with the ability of bacteria to adhere to the walls in the urethra and bladder. On top of all that, the tannins found in blueberries can help reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

 Tea

Green tea: Another flavonoid favorite is green tea, which contains compounds called polyphenols (wine has them too) that have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. “Green tea may help women who have abnormal Pap smears due to human papilloma virus (HPV), help prevent breast and ovarian cancer, and have potential benefits for weight management,” says Steelsmith. Studies show compounds in green tea (namely caffeine, theanine, and catechin) may help increase metabolism, which in turn helps you drop pounds.

Chocolate: Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. Along with antioxidant properties, flavanols have other potential benefits to vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. But that’s not a license to overindulge in the sweet confection. One ounce of dark chocolate a day will do. Plus, these plant chemicals aren’t only found in chocolate. You can find them in cranberries, apples, peanuts and onions, which are especially good for allergies.

Bilberry: Another noteworthy herbal star full of flavonoids is bilberry (part of the vitamin C complex). Studies show these flavonoids can help strengthen blood vessel walls and can help prevent eye disorders such as diabetic retinopathy. Cherries and blackberries also are good sources.

Vegetables: The USDA Flavonoid Database lists the flavonoid content of 58 veggies. Among those with the highest marks: Broccoli, kale, yellow, red and spring onions, hot peppers, rutabaga, spinach and water cress. Interestingly, mushrooms have no detectable flavonoids, so you can skip the fungi when looking for the richest antioxidant veggie sources.

What’s the ideal way to consume flavonoids?

The best way to get your fill of flavonoids is by eating loads of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Steelsmith recommends four servings of fruit and five servings of veggies. The more deeply hued the fruit or veggie, the richer the flavonoid content. Women should only consume one glass of wine daily, while men can have two; meanwhile, chocolate should be limited to a one-ounce portion, but you can drink unlimited green tea unless you are caffeine-sensitive.

If you have a specific condition, you might try a flavonoid supplement, but dosages vary widely and may be higher than what you’d receive from a healthy, balanced diet. Researchers have yet to determine exactly what levels of flavonoids are optimally beneficial, or even whether flavonoids are harmful at high doses. As with all supplements, flavonoid supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The most positive thing you can do for both your overall health and to treat specific conditions is to eat more fruits and vegetables that contain a wide variety of antioxidant-rich flavonoids, adding chocolate, wine and tea in moderation.

source: www.mnn.com


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Cocoa tied to improved brain function in some elderly

By Andrew M. Seaman     NEW YORK     Wed Aug 7, 2013 

(Reuters Health) – Older people with impaired blood flow to their brains saw improvements in thinking skills after drinking two cups of cocoa every day for a month, in a new study.

The study’s researchers caution, however, that people shouldn’t start stocking up on hot chocolate mix to help solve their crossword puzzles based on the new finding.

“We’re several steps removed from that recommendation,” said Dr. Farzaneh Sorond, the study’s lead author from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Instead, Sorond said the result helps focus future research that may turn up which component or components of hot chocolate are linked to better thinking skills.

Previous research has found the brain is more active if it gets an adequate supply of oxygen and sugar from the blood, the researchers wrote in the journal Neurology.

Among people with certain diseases that affect blood vessels – such as high blood pressure and diabetes – blood flow to the brain may be impaired.

Sorond and her colleagues wanted to look at whether drinking hot chocolate rich in flavanols could improve thinking skills in those people.

Studies have found that eating chocolate containing the plant compounds is linked to lower blood pressure readings and fewer strokes (see Reuters Health stories of Oct 10, 2011 and Aug 14, 2012 here: reut.rs/19NXUdo and reut.rs/QzBg9E.)


For the new study, the researchers recruited 60 people who were an average of 73 years old to be separated into one of two groups.

People in one group were told to drink two cups of flavanol-rich hot chocolate every day for one month. Those in the other group drank low-flavanol hot chocolate. All participants were told to not eat or drink any other chocolate during the study period.

There were no differences in blood flow or in scores on thinking tests between the two hot chocolate groups at the start of the study or after one month. So the researchers combined both cocoa groups and compared people with poor blood flow to the brain at the start of the study to those who had adequate blood flow.

They found more people with poor blood flow at the start saw their circulation improve by the end, compared to people who had adequate blood flow initially.

Also, while those with adequate blood flow didn’t see a significant improvement on tests that measured their thinking skills, the 17 people in the impaired flow group did.

Among those people, the time it took to connect sequential dots on pieces of paper or recognize certain characters on computer screens fell from 167 seconds at the start of the study to 116 seconds at the end.

Sorond said that time can add up for people during the day.

“That’s important if you add it to everything that requires multitasking for us,” she said.

It’s possible that even small amounts of flavanols make a difference for people with impaired blood flow, Sorond said, or that the caffeine in cocoa played a role in their improvement.

She warned, however, that the new study cannot prove drinking hot chocolate boosted thinking or blood flow.

“The next step is that we need a larger sample and we need more people with impairment at baseline… (to) see if we can demonstrate the same finding in a larger group,” Sorond said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/JOxTg9   Neurology, online August 7, 2013.


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Black tea linked to lower Type 2 diabetes risk

Black tea represents 90 per cent of the tea sold in the West

Posted: Nov 8, 2012

Type 2 diabetes is less common in countries where people often enjoy high tea, a statistical model suggests.
The number of people with diabetes has increased nearly six-fold over the past few decades, stimulating interest in how foods could play a role in prevention, researchers said.
Calling tea the most widely used ancient hot beverage in the world, a team of French, British and Swiss researchers mined information on tea consumption in 50 countries based on 2009 sales data from a market research firm and looked for any correlation to five major diseases.
“We observed that, among the five health indicators, only the ‘prevalence of diabetes’ indicator appeared to have a strong statistical relationship with black tea consumption,” Ariel Beresniak of Data Mining International in Geneva and co-authors concluded in Thursday’s issue of the journal BMJ Open.
The correlation only points to a potential cause that needs to be further investigated, they cautioned, noting that establishing causality is one of the most difficult challenges in public health.
In the study, consumption of black tea was highest in Ireland at nearly 2.16 kilograms per year per person and lowest in South Korea at 0.0007 kilograms per year per person. Canada was at about the midpoint for consumption at less than 0.5 kilograms per year per person.
But the quality and consistency of consumption and health data among the 50 countries likely varied.
Other factors that weren’t considered in the analysis may also be important, the researchers said.
The findings do back those of previous research, including a similar study in Europe.
While interest has grown in drinking green tea for its flavonoids in industrialized countries, black tea still represents 90 per cent of the tea sold in the West, the researchers said. In contrast, the Chinese population drinks 30 times more green tea per inhabitant than black tea.
Green tea is fermented to form black tea, keeping the caffeine about the same while different flavanoids are released. Flavanoids including theaflavins and thearubigins are thought to carry potential health benefits.
One of the authors is employed by Unilever and provided access to the global tea consumption data without any financial agreement or grant to support the study, which was carried out independently.
source: CBC


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The 10 healthiest foods on the planet

These 10 superfoods are proven, expert-beloved disease fighters and energy boosters, says fitnessmagazine.com. Add them to your meals and get on the fast track to a super-healthy body.

Spinach
Spinach is rich in two antioxidants that contribute to eye health- lutein and zeaxanthin.

Lemons
Just one lemon has more than 100 per cent of your daily intake of vitamin C, which may help increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels and strengthen bones. And the citrus flavonoids found in lemons may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and act as an anti-inflammatory.

Potatoes
One red potato contains 66 micrograms of cell-building folate- about the same amount found in one cup of spinach or broccoli. One sweet potato has almost eight times the amount of cancer-fighting and immune-boosting vitamin A you need daily.

Broccoli
One medium stalk of broccoli contains more than 100 per cent of your daily vitamin K requirement and almost 200 per cent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C- two essential bone-building nutrients. The same serving also helps stave off numerous cancers.

Beans
Eating a serving of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) four times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by 22 per cent. That same habit may also reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Avocados
Rich in healthy, satisfying fats proven in one study to lower cholesterol by about 22 per cent. One has more than half the fibre and 40 per cent of the folate you need daily, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Walnuts
Contain the most omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce cholesterol, of all nuts. Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and fight cancer; they may protect against sun damage, too (but don’t skip the SPF!).

Dark chocolate
Just one-fourth of an ounce daily can reduce blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals. Cocoa powder is also rich in flavonoids, antioxidants shown to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increase ‘good’ HDL levels.

Salmon
A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of depression, heart disease and cancer. A three-ounce serving contains almost 50 per cent of your daily dose of niacin, which may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.

Garlic
Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli. Allicin, a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.
 source:  fitnessmagazine.com


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What Are Flavonoids?

Why flavonoids are good for you, 

and what foods you’ll find them in

Benefits of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing – and repairing – cellular damage. Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.
Recommended Amount: How Much You Need
Get your fill of flavonoids by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables every day — we recommend four servings of fruit and five servings of veggies. Tea, red wine, and dark chocolate also contain flavonoids, but that’s not a green light to overindulge. Limit wine to a glass a day for women, two for men; and limit chocolate to a couple of small squares – about an ounce.
Good Sources of Flavonoids
There are many types of flavonoids, and their concentration in specific foods varies greatly, depending on how a product is grown and processed. So use the list below as a general guideline for foods that tend to be rich in flavonoids. Eating a diverse diet that regularly includes some of the following foods will provide you with a healthy helping of flavonoids:
Apples (flavonoids are in the skin)
Blueberries
Broccoli
Cabbage
Capers
Chocolate (dark, not milk) and cocoa
Onions
Strawberries
Red grapes
Red wine
Tea (all kinds)
source: RealAge.com