Antioxidants are a type of compound found in vegetables and fruits. They help protect your cells from a certain type of damage. Eating lots of produce can help lower your risk of heart disease and other health problems. A new study found that certain antioxidants in these foods may also reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, harms your ability to remember, think, and make decisions. Studies have found several lifestyle factors that may help lower the risk of getting dementia. These include eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and socializing with others. Getting enough sleep and doing activities that challenge your brain may also help.
Studies of antioxidants’ effects on dementia have had mixed results. Some have found that they protect the brain. Others have not. These studies asked people to remember what types of foods they’d eaten over a long period of time.
In a new study, researchers measured antioxidant levels in blood samples from more than 7,000 people. Participants were between the ages of 45 and 90. They were part of a nationwide study tracking their health over 16 years.
Blood levels of certain antioxidants were linked with a lower risk of developing dementia. These included lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in green, leafy vegetables. They also included beta-cryptoxanthin, which is found in some orange-colored fruits.
“Further studies are needed to test whether adding certain antioxidants to the diet can help protect the brain from dementia,” says NIH’s Dr. May Beydoun, who led the study.