A nice cup of tea is known to help in lots of situations and researchers now believe it could cut the risk of Alzheimer’s too. Drinking three cups of tea each day can reduce the chances of getting the condition by as much as a third, according to a new study by Rush University in Chicago.
The scientists have established a link between an antioxidant found in tea called flavonols and protection from the disease. They analysed 900 elderly people over the course of six years, monitoring their food and drink intake, and observed which of the volunteers eventually developed Alzheimer’s.
With an average age of 81, the participants were divided into five groups according to the amount of flavonols they consumed regularly. Volunteers in the group who took in the most were found to be 48 per cent less likely to get the degenerative disease.
Most people have a daily intake of between 16 and 20 milligrams of flavonols, but the range was much larger in the study. Those in the lowest group only ingested around 5.6 milligrams a day, while the highest consumption saw an average of 15.3 milligrams daily.
Already established research suggests a standard-sized cup of tea contains between eight and 15 milligrams of flavonols, meaning it takes more than one cup a day to put an individual within the top group.
Dr Thomas Holland, leader of the research, said: "Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea could be a fairly inexpensive and easy way for people to help stave off Alzheimer's dementia.
“With the elderly population increasing worldwide, any decrease in the number of people with this devastating disease, or even delaying it for a few years, could have an enormous benefit on public health."
There are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and Alzheimer’s is the most common form of the condition. At present, there is no cure and the Alzheimer’s Society expects the number of people with dementia to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
It’s therefore vital that individuals make sensible lifestyle choices to minimise their chances of getting Alzheimer’s as they age. Experts suggest a healthy diet and regular exercise are the cornerstones to preventing dementia in this way.
There are four main types of flavonols: isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin. A high intake of isorhamnetin was found to reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s by 38 per cent; kaempferol by 51 per cent; and myricetin by 38 per cent. Quercetin is not thought to lower the risk of Alzheimer's.
The study identified which foods were the top contributors for each flavonol. Large amounts of isorhamnetin are found in pears, olive oil, wine and tomato sauce, while kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli provide the most kaempferol. Anyone wishing to increase their consumption of myrictin should up their intake of tea, wine, kale, oranges and tomatoes.
As you can see, tea provides a ready supply of more than one type of flavonol and is easily added to an individual’s diet. So, it may be worth encouraging ageing loved ones to have that extra cup of tea each day in a bid to help protect against Alzheimer’s.