Antioxidants Not Associated With Lower Risk Of Stroke
February 21, 2013

Antioxidants Not Associated With Lower Risk Of Stroke

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

According to a new study, taking in as many antioxidants as possible may not be the sure fire way to avoid dementia and strokes as it was previously thought. These antioxidants can be found in numerous fruits and vegetables and even those things made from fruits and vegetables, like coffee and tea.

Previous research had found that all antioxidants reduced dementia and stroke risk, but now a study published by Elizabeth Devore with Brigham and Women´s Hospital (BWH) says not all antioxidants are created equal.

"We're seeing strong and clear benefits with specific antioxidants, but not overall," said Devore, speaking to NPR.

“It´s possible that individual antioxidants, or the main foods that contribute those antioxidants rather than the total antioxidant level in the diet contribute to the lower risk of dementia and stroke found in earlier studies,” added Devore, also of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The resulting paper from this study has now been published in the online journal Neurology.

Previous studies have found that foods with plenty of flavonoids can also have some significant health benefits, such as slowing down the cognitive decline associated with old age. Some researchers believe these flavonoids also have similar effects on the body as antioxidants, like vitamins C and E. These flavonoids can be found in berries, coffee and tea, as well as a whole host of other foods.

According to Devore, previous research could have confused the effects of flavonoids with the effects of antioxidants.

Devore analyzed data from a 14-year long study of 5,395 people from The Netherlands over the age of 55 with no signs of dementia. These participants were asked to report how often they ate 170 kinds of food containing antioxidants the year before the study began.

At the end of this 14-year study, the participants were split into 3 groups: those who reported having low, medium or high amounts of antioxidants in their diet. Nearly 600 people had developed dementia during the study, while another 600 people had a stroke during this time. According to Devore´s research, those who had reported eating high levels of antioxidants were no more or less likely to have developed dementia or experience a stroke.

Most of these participants received their antioxidants from coffee and tea, says Devore, noting that these brewed beverages are “Chock-full of antioxidants.”

Devore´s new findings defy an earlier Italian study from 2011 which found those with high levels of antioxidants in their diet had a lower risk of stroke overall. The participants in this study also received the majority of their antioxidants from coffee, tea, wine and other fruits and vegetables, said Devore. The Dutch diet is much different and includes more dairy and meat with fewer fruits and vegetables.

This difference suggests that not all antioxidants are responsible for lowering the risk of dementia and stroke, but only certain foods eaten with a certain diet.

This new study sheds a little more light on the issue of antioxidants, but Devore says there´s still more to be learned about these elements.

"As we're able to move into these more nontraditional antioxidant foods, we'll be able to tease out more specific information for people," she concluded.