There are thousands of flavonoid phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, and other whole plant foods missing from the nutrition labels that may play a role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
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 1800 people were followed for about 8 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 Alzheimers. By the end of the study, it appeared that those who drank fruit and vegetable juices had a 76% lower risk of developing Alzheimers. 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—9 spoonfuls per cup compared to 7 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 Alzheimers 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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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And be sure to check out all the videos on phytonutrients, and yesterday's video Amyloid and apple juice.
Also, check out my associated blog posts for some more context: Alzheimer's Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventable, Fighting Inflammation with Food Synergy, Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?, Antioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and Spices, and Eating Green to Prevent Cancer