Apple a day

By • Published: January 2nd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Apples, the unassuming kings of healthy snacks, may have lost some of their shine in recent years to grapes, pomegranates and arcane fruits like the acai [ah-SAH’-ee] berry, a new kid on the health-food block.

But scientists have found some new potentially healthful benefits hidden in the humble apple.

Research studies presented at the recent Society for Neuroscience conference found that an antioxidant found amply in apples called quercetin [kwher-sitin] may reduce damage to brain cells.

This juicy discovery occurred when researchers with the University of California Davis Health System exposed human cells to the food. Not just the healthful chemical in the food, but the actual food itself …fine bits of mashed apples.

After the cells were sufficiently sauced, scientists exposed them to a deadly protein.

Sure enough, the brain cells were protected.

If that finding isn’t enough to warm the hearts of people who say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a study published in a recent Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows apples may actually increase production of an essential chemical that enables messages to be transmitted between nerve cells.

In experiments, scientists found apple-eating mice with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms found their way through mazes with ease compared with non-apple eating mice.

Of course, findings in cell studies and even in mice don’t necessarily prove true in reality. More studies are needed to find out whether apples truly do keep Alzheimer’s away.

Undoubtedly scientists will continue to crunch the data.