Dietary flavonoids and their metabolites may have neuroprotective effects against age-associated neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and related dementias (dementia). There is a lack of population studies, however, on correlations between flavonoid intake and dementia. The main objective of the present study was to analyse such a relationship at a large-scale population level.
Based on global data (FAO, WHO), databases were generated for: (i) flavonoid content of foods; (ii) per capita national dietary intakes of flavonoids and other dietary factors; and (iii) disability-adjusted life years – a measure of burden and death – due to dementia. Five major flavonoid subclasses were examined. To minimize influences due to accuracy and reliability of the disease source data, twenty-three developed countries were selected after statistical evaluation.
Flavonols and combined flavonoids (all five combined) intakes were the only two parameters with significant (P < 0·05) negative dementia correlations. Multiple linear regression models confirmed this relationship, and excluded confounding from some other dietary and non-dietary factors. Similar analyses with non-dementia, neurological/psychiatric diseases did not yield significant correlations.
At a global level, and in the context of different genetic backgrounds, our results suggest that higher consumption of dietary flavonoids, especially flavonols, is associated with lower population rates of dementia in these countries.
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