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Flavonoid Intake and MRI Markers of Brain Health in the Framingham Offspring Cohort

Esra Shishtar,1,2 Gail T Rogers,1 Jeffrey B Blumberg,2 Rhoda Au,3,4,5 Charles DeCarli,6 and Paul F Jacques1,2


Background: Although greater flavonoid intake is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD), evidence relating dietary flavonoid intake to brain health based on MRI is lacking.

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the association between dietary flavonoid intake and MRI measures of brain health, including total brain tissue volume (TBV), white matter hyperintensities volume (WMHV), and hippocampal volume (HV).

Methods: Eligible subjects included members of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohortwhowere free of stroke at exam 7 and had at least 1 valid food frequency questionnaire from exams 5, 6, or 7 (= 2086; mean age at exam 7,

60.6 y). Flavonoid intakes represented the cumulative mean of intakes across the 3 exams and were categorized based on quartiles categories of intake. TBV, WMHV, and HV were assessed at exam 7. Multiple linear regression models were used to examine the cross-sectional association between total and the 6 classes of flavonoids and the 3 aforementioned MRI measures.

Results: The mean (95% CI) of the WMHV of subjects in the highest quartile category of flavan-3-ols [0.56 (0.52, 0.61)] and flavonoid polymers [0.57 (0.52, 0.61)] intake was significantly smaller relative to that of subjects in the lowest quartile category of flavan-3-ols [0.65 (0.60, 0.71)] and flavonoid polymers [0.66 (0.60, 0.71)] after accounting

for important demographic, lifestyle, and clinical factors. Inverse trend associations with WMHV were also seen for flavan-3-ols (= 0.01) and flavonoid polymers (= 0.01) as well as for total flavonoids (= 0.01). TBV and HV were not associated with dietary flavonoid intake following the adjustment for potential confounders.

Conclusions: Our results contribute to the literature on flavonoids and ADRD as they suggest that higher flavonoid intakes may affect ADRD risk in middle-aged and older adults by reducing WMHV, a marker strongly associated with ADRD.

 J Nutr 2020;00:1–9.