If one of your parents had Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll want to shop mostly in the produce section of your local grocery store. A study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology found that eating grapes regularly may help ward off this neurodegenerative disease.
Researchers at UCLA discovered that two cups of grapes a day may protect “against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain”. The report continues: “Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study’s participants were all suffering from “mild” decline in cognition. They were split into two groups. One group received a daily dose of grape powder equal to about 2.25 cups of grapes a day. The control group were served a placebo powder that looked and tasted similar to the grape powder.
After six months, scans of the participants’ brains were taken and cognitive performance was tested. Those who consumed the grape powder showed healthy levels of metabolic activity in the most vulnerable parts of the brain where Alzheimer’s tends to first appear. The control group that consumed the placebo showed a metabolic decline in the same brain areas.
Beneficial role of grapes for brain health
The study also showed that those who consumed the grape powder experienced improved cognitive functions in areas of the brain where thinking and working memory are seen.
“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 Dr. Daniel H. Silverman, lead investigator of the study.
“This pilot study contributes to the growing evidence that supports a beneficial role for grapes in neurologic and cardiovascular health, however more clinical studies with larger groups of subjects are needed to confirm the effects observed here.”
Researchers speculate that grapes aid the brain in various ways. They were found to improve blood flow, maintain healthy levels of a critical chemical that helps support memory, and show beneficial anti-inflammatory effects as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 5 million Americans may suffer from Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 14 million. Symptoms typically first appear in an individual after age 60, and memory struggles are typically the first symptoms. There is no known cure for the disease.