In light of National Nutrition Month, many people are paying more attention to their diets, balancing bad-for-you aspects like fat, saturated fat and sodium with nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants. Antioxidants, the free-radical-fighting vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables and many other foods and drinks, have long been celebrated for their abilities to ward off cancer, dementia and stroke, but new research shows that the type of antioxidants matters more than the sheer volume of them consumed.
A study published recently in Neurology found no association between an individual's total intake of antioxidants and a lower risk of stroke and dementia, Fox News reports. However, previous studies have shown links between antioxidants and reduced disease risk. Researchers noted that the type of antioxidant, not necessarily just the quantity, is what matters.
The antioxidants in question during the study were flavanoids and were attributed mostly to the participants' consumption of coffee and tea. In previous studies, antioxidants like vitamin C and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables were found to reduce the risk of stroke, according to the publication. Others have shown that a high intake of vitamin E, found in foods like almonds, sunflower seeds and spinach, can lower the risk of dementia.
"This study suggests that we really need to be specific about the antioxidants we're taking in to reduce dementia and stroke risk," study author Dr. Elizabeth Devore, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told the news outlet.