Diets High in Antioxidants May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
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Breteler, too, insists on caution. She says that she and others at the Erasmus Medical Center just "observed what appears to be a relationship," but can't really say that there is a cause and effect relationship.
They studied the dietary patterns of more than 5,000 people without dementia who volunteered to participate in the Rotterdam study, which looks at many aspects of aging. Breteler has been following this group of people since 1990 and, in that time, 146 people developed Alzheimer's disease and another 29 have dementia caused by stroke.
Breteler says the protective effect of antioxidants was "more pronounced among smokers and among those who are carriers of the Alzheimer's gene." She also says the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E appear to be equally protective but "flavonoids and/or fruit do not appear to be effective."
Grace J. Petot, MS, RD, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, tells WebMD that Breteler's results confirm some earlier studies that point to antioxidants as a way to lower risk of dementia. For example, she says that she followed a group of people who carry the Alzheimer's gene and found that "vegetables, especially dark leafy vegetables, appear to be protective."
Although Breteler was reluctant to say how many servings of dietary antioxidants are "high consumption," Petot says "adding about one and a half servings daily was protective in other studies." Petot says that "the current dietary recommendations are for five servings of fruits and vegetables -- and no one really eats five servings."
For more information from WebMD, visit our Disease and Conditions Alzheimer's page.