Using Antioxidant-Rich Foods as a Defense Against Cognitive Decline

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and the idea of any kind of dementia can be very scary. Most of us want to do what we can to prevent getting the condition if possible, and there is some research suggesting antioxidant-rich foods may lower your risk for these conditions. We’ll go over what this new research tells us, how to incorporate more antioxidant rich food into your diet, and other steps you can take to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in this article. 

Earlier research already suggested eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based food could be helpful for your brain, but a study published in May of last year (https://www.neurology.org/doi/10.1212/WNL.0000000000200289) suggest people who consume lots of antioxidants may be less likely to develop various types of dementia during their life. 

The study looked at data from 7,283 participants from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1988-1994). The participants were all at least 45 and did not have dementia at the start of the study. Researchers analyzed the blood antioxidant info from participants and found that high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin (cartenoids) were associated with a lower risk of developing dementia later on.

Incorporating More Antioxidants  

The specific antioxidants looked at in the study are found in dark-green vegetables like broccoli, kale, peas, and spinach (lutein and zeaxanthin) and oranges, papaya, peaches, persimmons, and tangerines (beta-cryptoxanthin or carotenoids). Additionally, berries, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, beets, radish, lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and more are rich in other antioxidants, so just aiming to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is a good goal. 

Other Steps to Reduce Dementia 

There are some risk factors to Alzheimer’s and dementia, like genetics and age that are out of your control. Incorporating more antioxidants into your diet may be a great way to lower your risk, but there are other steps you can take, including: 

  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Exercise regularly. 
  • Eat more fiber. 
  • Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep. 
  • Keep your brain engaged. 
  • Stay socially engaged. 

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