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Fruitful move in dementia research.

MOUNTING evidence suggests that plant chemicals found in red wine, cocoa and a wide range of fruits and vegetables may protect against Alzheimer's, experts were told.

Compounds called flavonoids, powerful anti-oxidants known to benefit the heart and possibly reduce the risk of cancer, may help to keep the brain healthy in old age.

Not all flavonoids can enter the brain, and clinical trials with other antioxidants such as Vitamin E showed no positive effect on dementia.

One group at King's College London has focused on a flavonoid called epicatechin which is abundant in a number of foods, including cocoa.

Biochemist Dr Robert Williams, who leads the team, said: "We have found that epicatechin protects brain cells from damage but through a mechanism unrelated to its antioxidant activity and shown in lab tests that it can also reduce aspects of Alzheimer's.

"Epicatechin and its breakdown products are measurable in the bloodstream of humans for a number of hours after ingestion and it is one of the relatively few flavonoids known to access the brain, suggesting it could be bioactive in humans."
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2009
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