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[SANET-MG] fruit for thought
Volume 18 | Issue 15 | 25 | Aug. 2, 2004
From the USDA to the NIH to the CDC to the MOM, health officials and
parents alike are imploring: Eat more fruit. Recently, researchers
following 118,428 participants in the long-term Nurse's Health Study and
the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that individuals eating
three or more servings of fruit daily had a 36% reduced incidence of
maculopathy, an untreatable age-related eye disease, compared to those
eating less than one-and-a-half daily servings. Other studies show how
specific fruits affect health at a molecular level, possibly pointing to
new bounties in drug discovery, and demonstrating the efficacy of
compounds already on the shelf--the grocer's shelf, that is.
How Cranberries Could Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Like chicken soup for colds, conventional wisdom says that cranberry
juice can prevent urinary tract infections. It turns out, this may hold
up under scientific scrutiny. Cranberries produce an unusual version of
proanthocyanidin, a condensed tannin. Other plant proanthocyanidins have
a single interflavanoid bond that links the compounds together.
Cranberry proanthocyanidins have stronger double bonds that may resist
degradation when eaten and enable them to dock onto uropathogenic
Escherichia coli, preventing the bacteria from attaching to the urinary
tract lining. Amy Howell of Rutgers University found that bacteria, when
added to urine from women who had consumed cranberries, could not adhere
to cultured bladder cells.
Better Aging Through Blueberries
Blueberries outperform other fruits in improving the circulatory system,
with benefits for the ailing heart, failing eyesight, and aging brain,
thanks in part to the anthocyanin pigments that make blueberries blue.
James Joseph, a neurologist in a US Department of Agriculture lab at
Tufts University, Boston, found that Alzheimer disease (AD)-model mice
that were fed blueberry anthocyanins have increased activity of MAP
kinases such as PKC and CREB, which are associated with learning and
short-term memory. Moreover, the AD mice perform cognitively on par with
non-Alzheimer mice. The equivalent of a cup of berries a day provided a
beneficial dose. In humans, blueberry anthocyanins may resensitize the
age-dulled receptors for neurotransmitter signals and revive the brain's
flagging neuronal communication system. )
Killing Cancer with Grape Skins
Previous studies attributed a reduction of heart disease in people who
drink red wine to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skins. The
same mechanism that makes resveratrol an anti-inflammatory agent also
helps it fight cancer, reports Marty Mayo at the University of Virginia
Health System in Charlottesville. Resveratrol inhibits the transcription
factor NF-kB that stimulates genes responsible for cell survival,
inflammation, and the proliferation that runs rampant in cancer. When
applied to cancer cells, resveratrol sensitizes them to tumor necrosis
factor-a, which initiates apoptosis. As a future drug treatment,
resveratrol could both enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and
relieve arthritis and atherosclerosis.
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