Eating Grapes May Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease

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Consuming grapes may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease, according to research presented this week at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California. It is the unique combination of components in grapes, which includes resveratrol, quercetin, catechins and other phytonutrients, that is thought to be responsible for the protective effects.

Investigators led by Dr. Nancy Berman of the University of Kansas, School of Medicine presented evidence from a study of aging mice that compared the effects of a diet with and without grapes. Dr. Berman shared her findings regarding the ability of a grape-enriched diet to dramatically increase the expression of critical target genes that block the Alzheimer's pathway and decrease inflammation in the brain. Alzheimer's is characterized by the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Additionally, oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to play a role in facilitating neurodegenerative disease.

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The data presented by Dr. Berman showed that a grape-enriched diet induced a 246-fold increase in the expression of transthyretin, a beta-amyloid scavenger known to reduce plaque formation in Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, the researchers observed significant inhibition of a gene that is involved in the inflammation that occurs in normal aging and appears to be accelerated in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

These results suggest that regular consumption of grapes may be beneficial for long-term brain health, specifically the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

"Preserving brain health is a key concern as we age," said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. "The growing evidence that eating grapes each day may help protect against degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's is very exciting."

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