Apples and Alzheimers
Apples could protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, Cornell studies find…
A group of chemicals in apples could protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism, according to two new studies from Cornell University food scientists. The studies show that the chemical quercetin, a so-called phytonutrient, appears to be largely responsible for protecting rat brain cells when assaulted by oxidative stress in laboratory tests.
Phytonutrients, such as phenolic acids and flavanoids, protect the apple against bacteria, viruses and fungi and provide the fruit’s anti-oxidant and anti-cancer benefits.
Quercetin is a major flavanoid in apples. Antioxidants help prevent cancer by mopping up cell-damaging free radicals and inhibiting the production of reactive substances that could damage normal cells.
“The studies show that additional apple consumption not only may help reduce the risk of cancer, as previous studies have shown, but also that an apple a day may supply major bioactive compounds, which may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders,” says Chang Y. “Cy” Lee, Cornell professor of food science at the university’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.
In a study that recently appeared online and is to be published in the November/December 2004 issue of theJournal of Food Science (69(9): S357-60), Lee and his co-authors compared how two groups of rat neuronal cells fared against hydrogen peroxide, a common oxidative stressor. Only one of the two groups was pretreated with different concentrations of apple phenolic extracts.