An Apple a Day Prevents Alzheimer's

Mama Knew Best

It's true that Mama always knew best, but ever-doubting scientists have proven what mother already knew: eating more fruit can protect your health and save on doctor bills. We've long known that fruit contains a wealth of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and in 2006, researchers at the University of California at Davis discovered that flavonoid-rich apples inhibit the type of cellular activity that can lead to the development of chronic ailments, such as heart disease. Eric Gershwin, professor of allergy, rheumatology, and immunology at UC Davis School of Medicine and his colleagues determined that apple extract has the ability to protect cells from damage and eventual death by generating interference between cells.


Now, a recent study appearing in the Journal of Food Science reveals that fruit also protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at Cornell University studied the effects of apple, banana, and orange extracts on neuron cells and found that plant-based phytochemicals contained in these extracts prevented neurotoxicity in cells. Of the three fruits, apples had the highest content of the protective antioxidants, followed by bananas and oranges. These fruits are the three most common to both Western and Asian diets.


In their study, authors concluded,  "[the] study demonstrated that antioxidants in the major fresh fruits consumed in the United States and Korea protected neuronal cells from oxidative stress...Additional consumption of fresh fruits such as apple, banana, and orange may be beneficial to improve effects in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's."

Confused? Eat Apples

Such studies could help clear the confusion about which foods we should include in our diet for ultimate health benefits. Susie Nanney, Ph.D., acting director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Saint Louis University says, "People are quite frankly confused about nutrition. I feel their pain."


A dietician, Nanney notes that the United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and other assorted health-related groups often send conflicting messages about which fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious.


Another study performed by researchers at Cornell suggests that people who like sweets eat more fruit than those who prefer salty snacks. The unfortunate side-B to this formula is that people who love fruit eat more sweets than vegetable lovers. This study helps further our understanding of the psychology behind what and how often people eat certain comestibles. This knowledge could lead to marketing strategies that would increase consumption of fruits like the Alzheimer's-preventing apple.

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