To most Eve’s fruit of temptation was an apple, according to scholars there is every reason to believe the fruit was actually a juicy and delicious pomegranate. This tempting fruit may turn out to be a brain savior, as scientists suggest it appears to put the breaks on age related memory decline.
The brain tends to shrink naturally with age, many experience a little forgetfulness as they get older. However in some that decline can happen faster, and be far more serious than anticipated. Approximately 110 million older adults have a memory issue on some level, of one kind or another. It is estimated that 1 million Americans have an official case of mild cognitive impairment or MCI; meaning there is a lot of people with some form of cognitive complaint.
Research from UCLA has suggested making pomegranate part of a regular dietary program may help with brain health. Animal studies have already revealed antioxidant rich pomegranates and berries can help with memory. An early double blind study showed after a month of consuming pomegranate juice human subjects had improved visual memory; and functional MRI confirmed the juice caused areas of the brain involved with visual memory to light up.
In this new study 261 volunteers between the ages of 50-75 were recruited for the double blind and randomized study, with a range of cognitive abilities from normal to MCI. Subjects drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice or placebo drink without polyphenols for one year. Two kinds of memory tests were used to track results: a visual learning and retention test using geometric shapes to measure learning, total recall, and delayed recall; and a word recall test using 12 words to measure long term retrieval, total recall, and long term storage.
At the end of the study those in the placebo group had learning scores plummet by 26%; while those in the pomegranate group gained 14% on their learning scores. The researchers are not clear as to what makes pomegranate such a brain superstar, but they do have a few theories. 1) Studies have demonstrated shifts in gut bacteria can affect memory and learning; the gut transforms polyphenols into urolithins which can cross the blood brain barrier and have varied health benefits which may include supporting memory. 2) Their natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect could support learning and memory which may also help to fight harmful amyloid plaques associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease links.
Both theories are solid, either way there is no shortage of proof that pomegranate has brain benefits; eating more could help to slow age related memory loss while it boosts brain power, helping to improve the ability to learn. This is all the more reason to go ahead and indulge in some pomegranates either raw, juice, or in supplements all year long.
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