People around the world are living longer. This means there are more people who suffer from mental illnesses like dementia. Researchers have found that food can cut the chances of developing dementia. In particular, if people eat food that contains flavonoids, they could reduce their chances of getting dementia by a third. Flavonoids are chemicals that give fruit and vegetables their bright colours. They help increase the amount of oxygen going to the brain. They are in produce such as blueberries, oranges, peppers and strawberries. Researcher Dr Walter Willett from Harvard University said: "A colourful diet rich in flavonoids seems to be a good bet for promoting long-term brain health."
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Dr Willett conducted a study of the eating habits and mental health of around 77,000 middle-aged people for 20 years. He discovered that people who ate more flavonoids were less likely to experience signs of cognitive decline later in their life. The researchers said people who ate more flavonoid-rich food were 38 per cent less likely to suffer from mental decline. Dr Willett said this meant people in their later years could feel up to four years younger with the right diet. He added: "Flavonoids are powerhouses when it comes to preventing your thinking skills from declining as you get older. Adding colour to your plate may lower the risk of cognitive decline."