Phytonutrients and Flavonols are Food for the Brain.



Phytonutrients, in the form of polyphenols, have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antioxidant effects. They help to support the body’s immune system and help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease.

Olive oil is a powerful antioxidant and a polyphenol.  When choosing olive oil, it is important to make sure it is cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, in a dark glass bottle.  Make sure to keep it out of the sunlight and use it before the ‘best by’ date.

Rosemary, Sage, and Oregano: Carnosic acid is a phytochemical that occurs naturally in rosemary, sage and oregano.  These can be consumed as whole herbs, extracts or essential oils.  Carnosic acid has powerful antioxidant properties that can protect the brain from neurodegeneration.

Tumeric and Curcumin: This polyphenol, found in the turmeric plant, has major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It helps modulate cognitive decline and can improve mood.


Flavonols are plant compounds helpful in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The flavonol quercetin helps reduce inflammation and can also serve as a histamine-blocker.

Foods high in flavonols include:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Teas

Anthocyanins are flavonoid pigments, giving plants a deep red, purple or blue color.  They have cardioprotective, neuroprotective, and anti-tumor properties. Foods high in anthocyanins include:

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Leafy root vegetables (eggplant, cabbage, onion, radish)

Catechins/Epicatechins: These flavonoids are found mostly in cocoa and green tea. Cocoa has been shown to have properties that improve cognitive function and cognitive performance.  It can also help to open up the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and inducing relaxation.  In order to maximize the antioxidant capacity, the cacao must be organic, plain, dairy-free, low sugar dark chocolate.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG): This flavonoid is found in green and white teas.  Both have brain-protective antioxidant properties.


Even if you don’t remember what phytonutrients and flavonols are, remember that there are lots of healthy food for the brain. When you are considering healthy nutrition don’t forget to feed your brain!


PART 1: Brain Health | PART 2: Food for the Brain | PART 3: Brain Boosters


  • Dr. Kara Fitzgerald