Transcript: Phytochemicals: The Nutrition Facts Missing from the Label
It’s one thing to show Alzheimer’s benefits in a petri dish. It’s quite another to show benefit in a human population. That came two years later. About 1,800 people were followed for about eight years. At the beginning of the study, they asked how often everybody drank any kind of juice, and then sat back and watched to see who would get Alzheimer’s. By the end of the study, it appeared that those who drank fruit and vegetable juices had a 76% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They conclude that “fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.”
What could it be? Here’s the nutrition facts label for purple grape juice, on the left. According to the labels, there’s basically nothing in it. Not even any vitamin C. And indeed, that’s what the study found, even after controlling for antioxidant vitamin intake—vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene; still, a quarter the risk of Alzheimers. Based on the nutrition label, you’d think it was just sugar water, practically indistinguishable from Coca Cola. In fact, it’s got even more sugar—nine spoonfuls per cup compared to seven in Coke. But it just looks like sugar water, because the labels don’t list phytonutrients. If they did, the Coke label would remain the same, but the grape juice label would spill down, and roll along the floor like Santa’s list. And this would be like the first page of the list. There are thousands of phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, missing in junk foods and animals foods, yet never listed on the labels.
The leading candidate class of compounds responsible for the protection against Alzheimer’s are the phenolics, like flavones, and flavonones, and flavonols, which in many cases can rapidly cross the blood-brain barrier. There are more than 5,000 different types of flavonoids in the plants we eat. Research suggests that within minutes of biting into an apple, for example, these phytonutrients are already starting to light up our brain.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Peter Mellor.
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