Researchers have found that hiking up your antioxidant intake wont necessarily help keep your mind sharp as you age. It was discovered that men who took a large amount of beta carotene, flavonoids and vitamins E and C during their middle years of life appeared no more protected against the risk of developing age-related diseases such as dementia later in life.

Despite these findings, researchers have continued to encourage individuals to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as these types of foods contain antioxidants that have been proven to provide many other health benefits. They also claimed that the creation of free radicals, of which antioxidants inhibited, might be related to the development of Alzheimers disease.

Two studies were performed to determine whether or not antioxidants provided protection against Alzheimers disease. Both studies found antioxidants to be beneficial when they were received from foods, however the results werent as positive when the individuals received antioxidants from supplements.

Study on Antioxidants:

Information on individual diets was evaluated on approximately 2,500 Japanese-American men between the ages of 45 and 68 who lived in Hawaii. The study was conducted between the years of 1965 and 1968. Measurements of antioxidants were taken by calculating all of the antioxidants the men had eaten over the prior 24 hours. Participants of the study received most of their antioxidants from tea, sweet potatoes, taro, bok choy, turnips, macadamia nuts and mango. Results of the Study:

About 30 years after the study was performed, 235 of the men had developed dementia. The amount of antioxidants didnt seem to be a factor in the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Sociodemographic lifestyle factors, cardiovascular risk factors and other dietary constituents were taken into consideration and were found not to be related to the risk of Alzheimers disease. The study concluded that taking antioxidants during midlife didnt cut the risk of developing dementia later in life. American Journal of Epidemiology May 15, 2004;159(10):959-67

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

I am not really surprised with this study, but I do believe that antioxidants can protect the brain.

It is just not the typical antioxidants like vitamins E and C that were evaluated in this study that have a protective effect, however. I believe the key is in the polyphenolic bioflavonoids that are especially present in deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries would be the classic example and have been widely used for this purpose.

I started a review on this topic recently but have been so busy I have not been able to finish it, but another review was in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I hope to finish my review soon as it is really a remarkable review.

If you read my newsletter you know that blueberries rank high on my list of foods that are an excellent food source for protecting your brain.

Whole blueberries are associated with numerous health benefits such as improving brain function and the European blueberry, known as bilberry, is known to prevent and even reverse the most common cause of blindness, macular degeneration. And, since blueberries are low in sugar they wont stimulate severe insulin swings if eaten in moderation.

Along the same vein, you can also enjoy the same benefits chocolate provides via flavonoids in fruits like apples, grapes and blueberries and most all vegetables, including broccoli, greens and onions too. Particularly, blueberries are the top-rated food as far as antioxidant capacity by the USDA, and we carry delicious and convenient Wild Blueberry IQ Softgel Capsules in our store that are made from whole fresh blueberries -- and contain 100mg of potent disease fighting anthocyanins per capsule -- more than any other available supplement!

But, just remember, dont fall into Goldilocks trap, or the classic American strategy when it comes to nutrition: if a little is good, then more is even better.

If you eat too many blueberries, you will release too much sugar in your system that will cause insulin levels to rise and, eventually, a worsening rather than an improvement in your health.

So, enjoy all that blueberries have to offer, but dont overdo it!

If you are looking for additional natural sources of antioxidants, fresh, raw vegetables are also a great source so dont forget to include vegetables that are right for your metabolic type in your diet.

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