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Compound in apples may help fight Alzheimer's disease

A potent antioxidant abundant in apples and some other fruits and vegetables appears to protect brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative disorders, according to a new study in rat brain cells conducted by researchers at Cornell University in New York.

The study adds strength to the theory bolstered by recent animal studies that the risk of developing Alzheimers and similar diseases may be reduced by dietary intervention, particularly by increasing ones intake of antioxidant-rich foods. It is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.

On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of [the antioxidant] quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimers, says study leader C.Y. Lee, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science & Technology at Cornell University in Geneva, N.Y.

People should eat more apples, especially fresh ones, Lee says. He cautions that protection against Alzheimers using any food product is currently theoretical and adds that genetics and environment are also believed to play a role in the disease. Despite these caveats, the researcher predicts that eating at least one fresh apple a day might help. But Lee also points out that results so far are limited to cell studies and that more advanced research, particularly in animals, is still needed to confirm the findings.

Previously Lee and his associates have shown that apples may help protect against cancer too.

For the current study, the researchers exposed groups of isolated rat brain cells to varying concentrations of either quercetin or vitamin C. The cells were then exposed to hydrogen peroxide to simulate the ty
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society
16-Nov-2004


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