ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2010) — Scientists have reported the first evidence that eating blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries may help the aging brain stay healthy in a crucial but previously unrecognized way. Their study, presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), concluded that berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain’s natural “housekeeper” mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline.
Shibu Poulose, Ph.D., who presented the report, said previous research suggested that one factor involved in aging is a steady decline in the body’s ability to protect itself against inflammation and oxidative damage. This leaves people vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders.
“The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline.”
I’ve been eating strawberries quite a lot throughout this year as well as blueberries when the price was right. Apparently, frozen ones, available year round are just nutritious because freezing does not reduce the polyphenol. Just the other day polyphenols were in the news because tea also contains this antioxidant, but home-brewed tea rather than bottled tea has a highter percentage of polyphenols. The compound responsible for the color of turmeric, called curcumin, also happens to be a polyphenol- if you enjoy that spice. Deep reds, yellows and blues are the indications of color choices in fruits and vegetables. Deep yellow sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, and black grapes are other good choices. Pure pomegranate and red grape juices and unfiltered apple juice or cider are excellent choices as well.
In moderation, red wine is a very rich source of the famous polyphenol, resveratrol, which is present in high concentrations in the skins of wine grapes. For the highest concentratons of resveratrol, choose Pinot Noir wines from colder, damp climates such as New York and Oregon.
For the non-wine drinkers, beer is also a great source of polyphenols , and contains a great variety of polyphenols. This is because beer is made with barley as well as hops. Barley provides the majority of the polyphenols found in beer, but hops are an important source of a variety of polyphenols. For the highest concentrations of polyphenols, choose well-hopped bitter beers such as India Pale Ales or dark beers. Dark malt that is used to make dark beers provides melanoidin antioxidants that actually may help to keep the hop polyphenol antioxidants in the beer during the brewing process.
Black barley in its raw form, rather than in the beer-making process, is loaded with polyphenols. Chocolate, too, if one chooses dark, bitter chocolate and unsweetened cocoa.
So, I am suggesting that we concoct a polyphenol-packed dinner and I wil call on the French Chef, Microdot, to assemble one for us. Monsieur, si vous voulez.