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“We all wish to maintain a healthy brain throughout life, but sadly a decline in brain function is all too common,” said Dr Shireen Kassam, who is also a founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK.
What’s more worrying, dementia cases are on the rise with the number set to reach 153 million people by 2050.
The good news is that a healthy diet is one of the greatest weapons you can add to your arsenal of protection against the mind-robbing condition.
“The best foods for brain health are the brightly coloured fruit and vegetables,” added Kassam.
While a variety of fruit and veg is definitely up for this job, the doctor explained that two plant compounds are especially potent, with one of them being able to bust your risk by a whopping 48 percent.
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Kassam said: “Eating fruit and vegetables that are high in flavonoids may be of particular benefit.
“Flavonoids are a class of polyphenols representing more than 5,000 bioactive compounds that are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including grapes, berries, apples and in tea.”
Don’t take just the doctor’s word for it as several studies have highlighted the beneficial effect of flavonoids on cognitive decline, reducing your risk by around 20 percent.
Research, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, showed that a higher intake of polyphenol-rich foods and other bioactive compounds was associated with the generation of beneficial compounds from the gut microbiota.
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“These gut-derived compounds detected in the blood were associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline,” Kassam said.
Rich sources of the plant goodies include the likes of tea, red wine, leafy vegetables, onions, apples, berries, cherries, soybeans, citrus fruits, and more.
Another group of plant goodies that can help stave off the brain condition are carotenoids.
Kassam said: “Higher intakes of carotenoids from yellow/orange vegetables have also been found to protect brain health.
“A study that followed 927 elderly US residents for seven years found that those consuming the most carotenoid-rich foods had a 48-percent reduction in the risk of developing dementia.”
Good sources of carotenoids include yams, kale, spinach, watermelon, cantaloupe, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mangoes and oranges.
Unlike some other vegetables, cooking and chopping carotenoid-rich foods increases the strength of the nutrients when they enter the bloodstream.
The expert concluded that it’s important to strive for a variety of plant foods while keeping your intake of animal-derived and processed foods to a minimum.
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