Eating handful of grapes twice a day continuously for six months at a stretch has increased the brain metabolism and protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain, said a study.
Eating grape-enriched diet also increased brain metabolism in other parts of brain pertaining to attention, working memory significantly compared to those on the non-grape diet.
“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 lead scientist Dr. Daniel H. Silverman of the University of California. Grape polyphenols also improve antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
The subjects for the study were chosen with early memory decline and given either whole grape powder equivalent to 2¼ cups of grapes per day or a polyphenol-free placebo powder matched for flavor and appearance. They were monitored for cognitive performance and measured six months later for changes in brain metabolism with brain PET scans.
Grapes helped to reduce oxidative stress in the brain, promote healthy blood flow in the brain and to maintain levels of a key brain chemical that promotes memory, besides exerting anti-inflammatory effects.
Consuming grapes preserved healthy metabolic activity in the regions of the brain that are affected by the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, while those who didn’t consume grapes exhibited significant metabolic decline in these critical regions, showed the findings. Moreover, those on grape-rich diet showed beneficial changes in regional brain metabolism that is related to cognition and working memory performance.
The results of the study are likely to help reserchers find correlation between brain metabolism and Alzheimer’s and dementia. About 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is believed to be due to a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.
The study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, was published in Experimental Gerontology.
Apart from grapes, earlier studies have shown that walnuts would another rich source of increased brain metabolism.
Eating just 13 grams of walnuts daily can sharpen your memory, besides keeping brain-related ailments like Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay, said a study by David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, and co-researcher Alfonso Ang, also a doctor.
The researchers found that participants with higher walnut consumption performed significantly better on a series of six cognitive tests. and their cognitive function was consistently greater in adult participants who consumed walnuts, regardless of age.
Walnuts are also a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid with heart and brain-health benefits with several studies indicating the possible beneficial effects of slowing or preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.