ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said a compound abundant in apples and other fruits and vegetables can protect brain cells against damage linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Studies of rat brain cells conducted by Cornell University researchers suggests a compound called quercetin -- a powerful antioxidant -- can protect the cells from oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer's and similar disorders.
The research adds strength to the theory that the risk of developing Alzheimer's could be reduced by adjusting one's diet -- particularly by eating more antioxidant-rich foods.
"On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer's," said study leader C.Y. Lee.
"People should eat more apples, especially fresh ones," Lee said, but cautioned that eating any food to protect against Alzheimer's remains an unproven strategy. Genetics and environment also are thought to play a role in the disease.
Other foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, red wine, red grapes and dark chocolate.
Alzheimer's affects an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute on Aging.