UMass Lowell research shows benefits of apple juice on neurotransmitter affecting memory

Lowell -- For those who think that apple juice is a kid's drink, think again. Apples and apple juice may be among the best foods that baby boomers and senior citizens could add to their diet, according to new research that demonstrates how apple products can help boost brain function similar to medication.

Animal research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) indicates that apple juice consumption may actually increase the production in the brain of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved memory. Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine are chemicals released from nerve cells that transmit messages to other nerve cells. Such communication between nerve cells is vital for good health, not just in the brain, but throughout the body.

"We anticipate that the day may come when foods like apples, apple juice and other apple products are recommended along with the most popular Alzheimer's medications," says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., director of the UML Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research.

The study will be published in the August issue of the international Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The abstract is now available online at http://www.j-alz.com/issues/9/vol9-3.html .

The role of acetylcholine in the brain is not a new area of research. Alzheimer's medication studies start with the premise that increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain can help to slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease. Testing a similar hypothesis, the UML research team found that having animals consume antioxidant-rich apple juice had a comparable and beneficial effect.

In this novel animal study at UML, adult (9-12 months) and old (2-2.5 years) mice, some specially bred to develop Alzheimer's-like symptoms, were fed three different diets (a standard diet, a nutrient-deficient diet, and a nutrient-deficient diet suppleme

Contact: Sandra Seitz
U.S. Apple Association

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