Find out what secret antioxidant that I eat daily to keep my memory from failing!
For years anecdotal and laboratory evidence has been accumulating to suggest that drinking pomegranate juice may be good for older people seeking to improve brain function. The ruby-red juice of the pomegranate fruit is loaded with potent polyphenol antioxidant compounds. These remarkably rich compounds have been reputed to help quell the ravages of oxidative stress in the body.
Many older people, and those who care about them, worry about the threat of Alzheimer’s disease. The mind-robbing disease is characterized by failing memory and declining cognitive abilities. It’s an often heartbreaking disease, because even the ability to recognize loved ones usually fails, eventually.
Now scientists report in the journal, American Chemical Society-Chemical Neuroscience, that they think they’ve identified the specific compounds in pomegranate that are involved. These compounds work to prevent the aberrant protein, amyloid beta, from forming the neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer’s-related damage in the brain.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) contains a group of polyphenol antioxidant compounds called ellagitannins. These plant compounds are found in a few food sources, most notably the red raspberry. They’re a diverse group of compounds; more than a dozen occur naturally in pomegranate. In the gut, friendly gut bacteria metabolize these compounds into chemicals called urolithins.
The problem with ellagitannins is that these compounds are relatively large. Large molecules do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and therefore cannot directly influence brain health or activity. The blood-brain barrier is designed to protect the brain from foreign invaders and toxic compounds that could damage its sensitive tissues. But the urolithins are petite molecules capable of slipping through the tightly-woven barrier.
And it’s these bacteria-generated compounds that account for pomegranate’s ability to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers. Urolithins fight inflammation and protect the brain by preventing the formation of amyloid beta fibrils. Although the research has been conducted on animal models of the disease, pomegranate has been enjoyed safely for thousands of years, particularly in the Mideast, where it’s revered as a food and a form of medicine.
If you haven’t tried pomegranate, now’s a great time to start. These lovely fruits are available in markets seasonally. The juice is available year round.
Tao Yuan, Hang Ma, Weixi Liu, Daniel B. Niesen, Nishan Shah, Rebecca Crews, Kenneth N. Rose, Dhiraj A. Vattem, Navindra P. Seeram. Pomegranate’s Neuroprotective Effects against Alzheimer’s Disease Are Mediated by Urolithins, Its Ellagitannin-Gut Microbial Derived Metabolites. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2015; DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00260