Polyphenol-Rich Diet May Reduce Dementia Risk in Older Adults

There was an observable pattern with combined polyphenol intake and risk for dementia in the study cohort.

A diet containing polyphenol-rich foods, including berries, cereals, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts, olive oil, red wine, and tea, may reduce the risk for dementia in patients aged ≥65 years, according to a study published in Neurology.

A total of 1329 older French community dwellers (aged ≥65 years) who were free from dementia at baseline were included in the study. Participants provided sociodemographic, lifestyle, and medical data and underwent cognitive examinations every 2 to 3 years during the 12-year follow-up period. A 24-hour dietary recall was used to assess nutrient and polyphenol intake in all participants, with a focus on 26 main polyphenol classes and subclasses.

During the 12-year follow-up, incident dementia was diagnosed in 256 study participants, including 169 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. At baseline, participants who developed dementia were more likely to have diabetes mellitus (15.2% vs 8.1%, respectively; P <.001) and were more likely to be a carrier for APOE ε4 (22.3% vs 17.3%, respectively; P =.003).

There was an observable pattern with combined polyphenol intake and risk for dementia in the study cohort. The pattern was observed with the combination of flavonoids (eg, dihydroflavonols, anthocyanins, isoflavonoids, and flavanones), stilbenes (eg, resveratrol), lignans, and other subclasses (ie, hydroxybenzaldehydes, naphthoquinones, and furanocoumarins). In the multivariate models, participants in the higher vs lower quintile of pattern score had a 50% lower dementia risk (95% CI, 20%-68%; P <.01).

A potential limitation of the analysis includes the 24-hour dietary recall system for the assessment of polyphenol intake, which may have been prone to recall error.

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The investigators comment that the findings from their study demonstrate “associations of polyphenol subclasses to dementia only when combined in a pattern [that is] similar to what was previously reported with the Mediterranean diet (with individual components inconsistently related to dementia outcomes in studies unless combined in a global pattern score).”


Lefèvre-Arbogast S, Gaudout D, Bensalem J, et al. Pattern of polyphenol intake and the long-term risk of dementia in older persons [published online April 27, 2018]. Neurology. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005607