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24 January 2006
Apple Juice Counters Brain Aging

Those who want to maintain mental dexterity as they age might be interested in a new study that linked brain related benefits to apple juice and other apple products. The study, by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, suggests that consuming apple juice may protect against the cell damage that contributes to age-related memory loss.

The study focused on whether the consumption of apple juice was protective against oxidative brain damage in aging mice, damage that can lead to memory loss. "These newer findings show that there is something in apples and apple juice that protects brain cells in normal aging, much like the protection we previously saw against Alzheimer-like symptoms," said researcher Thomas B. Shea.

In the study, the researchers evaluated adult and aged mice using a standard diet, a nutrient-deficient diet, and a nutrient-deficient diet supplemented with apple juice. Although the adult mice tested were not affected negatively by the deficient diets, the aged mice were, which is consistent with normal aging due to oxidative neurodegeneration. The effect on cognition among the aged mice was measured through maze tests, followed by an examination of brain tissue.

The aged mice who consumed the diets supplemented with apple juice performed significantly better on the maze tests and all had less oxidative brain damage than those on the standard diet. It seems that supplementation by apple juice fully protected the aged mice from the oxidative stress caused by the nutrient-deficient diet. In addition, stronger mental acuity resulted when the aged mice consumed the human equivalent of 2-3 cups of apple juice or approximately 2-4 apples per day. "We believe that this effect is due to the apple's naturally high level of antioxidants," speculated Shea.

"This new study suggests that eating and drinking apples and apple juice, in conjunction with a balanced diet, can protect the brain from the effects of oxidative stress - and that we should eat such antioxidant-rich foods," Shea explained. The study, appearing in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, was funded by the U.S. Apple Association, but Shea said the results were still a cause for excitement, and should be encouraging for all individuals who are interested in staying mentally sharp as they age.

Source: University of Massachusetts


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