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Polyphenols May Prevent Alzheimer's

A study published in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that plant polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids may boost brain health and prevent Alzheimer's.

Polyphenols are found naturally in plants and fruits such as olive oil, cocoa, nuts and grapes. They have strong antioxidant properties which allow them to neutralize destructive free radicals and decrease oxidation damage in the body.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for numerous metabolic functions and are found in foods like vegetable oils, corn, sunflower, and soy.

The study was conducted by Spanish researchers from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain.

The researchers used two groups of mice for the study. The first group was given a normal diet and the second group received a diet high in polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The mice received the diet for 40 days, which is the equivalent of 5 years in human lifespan.

Using a biochemical and molecular analysis the researchers observed that the mice fed the special diet had more cell growth in two key areas of the brain that are damaged in patients with Alzheimer's.

The researchers claim the results show that a diet high in polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids is able to induce the generation of new cells in the adult brain and strengthen neural networks.

The ability of polyphenols to reduce and prevent oxidative damage was also tested. Using cell cultures, the researchers were able to determine that a cream containing polyphenols could effectively reduce, and in some cases completely prevent, oxidative damage in neural cells.

Further studies will help solidify the connection between polyphenols and neural health. In the meantime, these powerful antioxidants have already been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers, balance blood sugar levels and reduce oxidative stress.

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