Foods like apples and blackberries may help prevent older people from getting frail, according to a new study.
These fruits contain flavonoids called quercetin and it may be the most important ingredient for combatting the state of health related to the ageing process.
This bitter-tasting compound can be found in fruits, vegetables, leaves, seeds, red onions, grains, kale, and other food supplements.
The study found that for every 10mg of flavanols consumed per day, frailty was reduced by 20%.
“There may be some validity to the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor [or frailty] away,” said the authors.
“Individuals can easily consume 10mg of flavanols intake per day since one medium sized apple has about 10 mg of flavanols.”
However, the team also said there was “no significant” association between total flavonoid intake and frailty.
Co-author Shivani Sahni said: “Although there was no significant association between total flavonoid intake and frailty, higher flavanols intake – one of the subclasses of flavonoids – was associated with lower odds of developing frailty.
“Specifically, higher quercetin intake was the flavonoid that had the strongest association with frailty prevention.”
Ms Sahni said the data suggested that there may be subclasses to flavonoids that have more potential for preventing frailty.
Researchers said that future studies should focus on the dietary interventions of flavanols or quercetin for the treatment of frailty.
Further research also needs to be conducted with people from different backgrounds, they said.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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What is frailty syndrome?
According to Age UK, frailty is generally characterised by issues like reduced muscle strength and fatigue.
This means people can have relatively “minor” health problems, such as urinary tract infections, that have severe long-term impacts on their health.
About 10% of people aged over 65 live with it, and this figure rises to between 25% and 50% for those aged over 85.