Grapes Could Help Protect Cognitive Decline

Grapes harvest

The January 2017 issue of Experimental Gerontology published the finding of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles of a protective effect for powdered grape against a decline in brain metabolism in older adults. The results of the investigation suggest that eating grapes might contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study included ten men and women with mild cognitive decline. Participants were given freeze-dried grape powder or a placebo similar in flavor and appearance but lacking beneficial grape polyphenols. The grape powders, which provided the equivalent of three servings of grapes per day, were mixed with water and consumed in divided daily doses for six months. Cognitive performance and changes in brain metabolism as assessed by PET scans were evaluated before and after the treatment period.

At the study’s conclusion, participants who received the placebo experienced significant metabolic decline in areas of the brain affected during aging and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, while no decline occurred in those who received grape polyphenols. The latter group also showed an increase in metabolism in areas of the brain that were associated with improvements in attention and working memory performance. “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,” commented lead researcher Daniel H. Silverman.

“To our knowledge, this is the first application of brain PET to individuals following a dietary regimen of grape supplementation for a sustained period,” the authors announce. “Future studies with greater number of subjects, grape supplementation for longer periods, and longer follow-up after end of supplementation to test durability of effects, will be of significant interest.”

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