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Pomegranate Juice
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When his grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, Richard Hartman, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Loma Linda University’s School of Science and Technology, wanted to make a difference. “It was devastating to see the effects,” he recalls.

Hartman’s experience with Alzheimer’s may help others fight off the disease. Thanks to his research in this area, Hartman found that a daily glass of pomegranate juice could cut the build-up of harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease in half. In fact, this study has shown that pomegranates work just as well as pharmaceutical medicines.

“This study is the first to show beneficial effects (both behavioral and neuropathological) of pomegranate juice in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Hartman, researcher and lead author of the study. He also collaborated with Washington University researchers on this project.

The study began with transgenic mice predisposed to develop Alzheimer’s-like pathology and symptoms. At a young age, the mice were split into two groups—half received water with added pomegranate juice concentrate, and the control group received water with the same amount of sugar as the juice. The mice drank an average of 5 milliliters of fluid a day, which is roughly equivalent to a human drinking one to two glasses of pomegranate juice a day. The learning and memory abilities of the mice were tested in the Morris water maze, which required the animals to swim and find a submerged platform in a pool of water.

The results are significant. After six months, 1) the pomegranate juice-treated mice learned water maze tasks more quickly and swam faster; and 2) the mice that drank the pomegranate juice had 50 percent less beta-amyloid plaques in the hippocampus of their brains.

High Levels of an Antioxidant Phytochemical

Pomegranates contain very high levels of polyphenols (an antioxidant phytochemical that tends to prevent or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals) as compared to other fruits and vegetables. This somewhat uncommon fruit was used as a folk medicine throughout the ages for a variety of ailments, and it is mentioned in many of the world’s major religions.

The study, titled “Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease,” is featured in the December 2006 journal Neurobiology of Disease.

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By Patricia K. Thio. Reprinted with permission from Pacific Union Recorder, February 2007. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. 

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