Study Says You Should Eat These Three Foods To Help Prevent Memory Loss

Of all the varying degrees of cognitive decline, age-related memory loss is considered to be the most mild. A 2002 scientific review published in the British Medical Journal cites that approximately 16 million adults at least 65 years of age or older experience age-related memory impairment across the country. That's roughly 40% of the older adult population. While research shows that only about 1% of these folks will go on to develop dementia each year, it doesn't make age-related memory loss any less difficult to experience.

Whether we will experience memory loss later in life is not entirely within our control. However, there are strategies one can implement to help potentially reduce the risk. Such tactics include exercising daily, getting plenty of sleep, socializing, reading, and solving puzzles, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. 

What we put into our bodies can also promote brain health. Vegetables, fruits, low-fat proteins, and whole grains are among some of the best options for supporting memory. However, these are all pretty broad categories. Can we get a little more specific regarding which exact food items can best help prevent memory loss? Thankfully, studies have narrowed it down for us to three specific foods: tea, apples, and berries.

Tea, apples, and berries may prevent memory loss

Researchers from a 2023 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that flavanol-rich foods may help prevent memory loss in older adults. The study involved more than 3,500 participants. One group received an intervention of 500 milligrams of cocoa flavanols daily for three years, while the other group was given a placebo.

Using a combination of urine analysis, self-reported surveys, and memory testing, it was found that those who received the intervention displayed improvements in their short-term memory (via The Guardian). While the jumps in memory scores weren't enormous, those in the intervention group who began the study with a less-healthy diet and minimal flavanol consumption saw greater degrees of improvement.

Although flavanols can be found in a number of different food items, experts point out that tea, apples, and berries are among some of the best foods to eat in order to reach the study's optimal 500 daily milligrams. "One mug of tea, six squares of dark chocolate, a couple of servings of berries and apples would together provide about 500 mg of flavanols," professor Aedin Cassidy, chair of nutrition and preventative medicine at Queen's University Belfast, told The Guardian in reference to the study.

Tea, apples, and berries may also protect against dementia

In addition to protecting against mild, natural cognitive decline, additional research has found that tea, apples, and berries may take it one step further and also help reduce the risk of dementia. Researchers from a 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at health data from 2,801 participants over the course of nearly 20 years.

The research findings showed that those who consumed the greatest amounts of another type of flavonoid, flavonols, were less susceptible to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) than participants who had the lowest levels of flavonol consumption. Tea, apples, blueberries, and strawberries were among the food items associated with the largest degree of risk reduction, Harvard Health Publishing reported.

Flavonols are thought to have antioxidant properties, according to 2016 research published in the Journal of Nutritional Science. Flavonols are also able to benefit our health in many other ways and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and inflammation.