Alzheimer's: can dietary flavonols reduce the risk?

Alzheimer's: can dietary flavonols reduce the risk?

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Certain flavonols appear to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's

Can Alzheimer's be avoided by eating right? According to a recent study, at least the risk of illness drops significantly if a lot of flavonols are ingested with the diet. The flavonols form strong antioxidants and can be found in fruit, vegetables or tea, for example.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and cannot be cured based on previous therapies. Prevention is therefore all the more important. According to a new study by researchers at Rush University in Chicago, certain flavonols could make a significant contribution here. The researchers report that these flavonols are found in almost all types of fruit and vegetables, as well as in tea and wine. Her study results were published in the specialist journal "Neurology".

What are flavonols?

Flavonols are a type of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals and "known for their positive health effects through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties"; explains the research team. In the current study, the US scientists have now checked whether flavonols can possibly also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.

Participants' food consumption queried

In total, the data from 921 people with an average age of 81 years were considered in the study. All participants had no Alzheimer's dementia at the start of the study. Over a period of an average of six years, the participants filled out a questionnaire every year that recorded how often they had eaten certain foods.

220 participants contracted Alzheimer's

Other factors such as education, physical activity and the amount of time the participants spent doing mentally demanding activities were also asked. The participants were also tested annually to determine whether they had Alzheimer's disease. During the study period, 220 people developed Alzheimer's disease.

Different groups recorded the flavonols

The researchers then divided the participants into five groups based on their consumption of flavonols. In addition, the consumption of flavonols was assigned to four different categories. The following foods were the most important in these categories

  • Isorhamnetin: pears, olive oil, wine and tomato sauce;
  • Kaempferol: kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli;
  • Myricetin: tea, wine, kale, oranges and tomatoes;
  • Quercetin: tomatoes, kale, apples and tea.

Significantly reduced risk of illness

Further data analysis showed that participants in the group with the highest consumption were 48 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's dementia than those in the group with the lowest consumption of flavonols. "Of the 186 people in the highest group, 28 people or 15 percent developed Alzheimer's disease compared to 54 people or 30 percent of the 182 people in the lowest group"; reports the research team.

Only quercetin had no effect

Furthermore, a separate analysis of the flavonols showed that people with the highest isorhamnetin intake were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those with the lowest intake. The likelihood was reduced by 51 percent for kaempferol and 38 percent for myricetin. For quercetin, however, the researchers found no connection with the risk of Alzheimer's.

Inexpensive way of prevention

"More research is needed to confirm these results, but they are promising," said study author Thomas M. Holland of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging. Given the predicted increase in Alzheimer's disease, any decrease in the risk of disease could have enormous public health benefits. "Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea could be a fairly inexpensive and easy way to fight Alzheimer's disease," said Holland.

However, the study author explicitly points out that the current study only shows a connection between food flavonols and the risk of Alzheimer's, but cannot prove that flavonols directly reduce the risk of disease. Therefore, further investigations are now necessary to check the relationship. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Thomas M. Holland, Puja Agarwal, Yamin Wang, View ORCID ProfileSue E. Leurgans, David A. Bennett, Sarah L. Booth, Martha Clare Morris: Dietary flavonols and risk of Alzheimer dementia; in: Neurology (published January 29, 2020),
  • Rush University Medical Center: Study Links Antioxidant Flavonol With Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s (published 01/29/2020),

Video: Can Diet Prevent Alzheimers: Exploring the MIND Diet. Brain Talks. Being Patient (July 2022).


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