TIME neuroscience

Pomegranate Compound Could Delay Alzheimer’s, Study Says

Eat more fruit for better brain health, science suggests

There’s a chemical compound in pomegranate fruits called punicalagin, which researchers at University of Huddersfield, an institution known for food science, believe could help slow the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by treating inflammation in the brain.

For two years, Dr. Olumayokun Olajide has lead of team of researchers in studying the effects of the compound on rats, and in new research, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the researchers showed that the compound was able to inhibit some inflammation in the brain. Now, the researchers are looking at how much pomegranate is needed to get adequate amounts of punicalagin. In 100% pomegrante juice products, the researchers estimate there’s about 3.4% punicalagin, and most of it is found in the skin.

The researchers are also teaming with organic chemists to see if it’s possible to create drugs for inflammation that use punicalagin.

The findings show that punicalagin doesn’t stop or prevent neurodegenerative diseases from happening, but by interfering with inflammation, they could slow the progression. A lot of current research is looking at whether it’s possible to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s symptoms in people before they start to show symptoms of the disease, at which point, some researchers worry, it might be too late.

It’s not the first time that researchers have looked at the benefit of pomegranate, which in other studies has shown to help break down the plaques in the brain that lead to the disease. All of the research is still early, and the majority is conducted in rats or mice and not humans, but it never hurts to add a little more fruit to your diet.

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