FRESNO, Calif. — If Alzheimer’s disease runs in your family, you may want to head over to the produce section at your local grocery store pronto. A new study finds a very popular fruit may help ward off the debilitating brain ailment.
Researchers at UCLA discovered that two cups of grapes a day may protect “against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain,” according to a release from the California Table Grape Commission. The report continues: “Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study, recently published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, had 10 participants receive a daily serving of grape powder equal to about 2.25 cups of grapes a day. Participants in a control group were served a placebo powder that looked and tasted similar to the grape powder. The participants were all suffering from “mild” decline in cognition.
After six months, scans of the participants’ brains were taken and cognitive performance was tested. Those who ingested the grape powder maintained healthy levels of metabolic activity in the parts of the brain where Alzheimer’s tends to appear first. Those who ingested the placebo showed a metabolic decline in the same areas.
The study also showed that those who consumed the grape powder demonstrated improved metabolic functioning in areas of the brain where cognition and working memory are seen.
“The study examines the impact of grapes as a whole fruit versus isolated compounds and the results suggest that regular intake of grapes may provide a protective effect against early decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Daniel H. Silverman, lead investigator of the study. “This pilot study contributes to the growing evidence that supports a beneficial role for grapes in neurologic and cardiovascular health, however more clinical studies with larger groups of subjects are needed to confirm the effects observed here.”
Researchers speculate that grapes aid the brain in various ways. They were found to aid in healthy blood flow, maintain healthy levels of a critical chemical that helps support memory, and show beneficial anti-inflammatory effects as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 5 million Americans may suffer from Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 14 million. Symptoms typically first appear in an individual after age 60, and memory struggles are typically the first symptoms. There is no known cure for the disease.