Protect Your Brain with Things You Love
New research links moderate consumption of wine, chocolate, and tea with improved cognitive function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In this study, Oxford researchers working with colleagues in Norway examined the relationship between cognitive performance and the intake of these three common foodstuffs in 2,031 adults, ages 70 to 74, who were questioned about their habitual diet before undergoing a series of cognitive tests. The results showed that those who regularly consumed chocolate, wine, or tea had significantly better test scores than those who did not. The researchers attribute the benefit to a class of micronutrients called polyphenols and their nutrient subclass, flavonoids, pointing out that tea, red wine, and cocoa are our major dietary sources of these nutrients that help protect our brain. (University of Oxford, Dec. 2008)
Plums Flex Their Antioxidant Muscle
Plainly, “blueberries have some stiff competition,” says Dr. Luis Cisneros, an AgriLife Research food scientist, who with a colleague compared various summer fruits to assess their content of antioxidants and phytonutrients — those much-touted plant substances associated with disease prevention. Plums and other stone fruits, he found, are quickly emerging as the new superstars, giving the prized blueberries a run for their money. This is good news, especially in tight economic times, because the relatively inexpensive plum contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a handful of more expensive blueberries. (Texas A&M AgriLife, Feb. 2009)
Want Strong Bones? Eat Color!
Previous research has consistently shown that eating fruits and vegetables is good for our bones. Now, a new study funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reports that it is the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, especially those that impart color, that protect the skeleton from stress caused by free radicals. Colorful antioxidants, or plant pigments such as carotenoids, protect cells and tissues from damage caused by naturally occurring oxygen free radicals in the body, thus inhibiting bone breakdown, or resorption (the release of precious bone minerals back into the bloodstream). For the study, the researchers tracked more than 600 volunteers, aged 75 and older, over the course of four years and found that carotenoids, particularly lycopene (found in tomatoes and other red and orange fruits) appeared to offer the most protection against bone loss and, consequently, osteoporosis. (USDA/Agricultural Research Service, Jan. 2009)