Could beets provide a natural way to combat Alzheimer’s disease? New research presented at a scientific conference this week suggests the answer may be: Yes.
Betanin, a compound found in beets that gives the vegetable its distinctive red color, can help slow the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, according to a new study released this week at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.
The findings come as a number of scientists are studying new drugs that could alleviate some of the long-term effects of the disease, the world’s leading cause of dementia, by removing so-called beta-amyloid protein plaques from the brain that lead to memory loss and other mental and physical problems.
“Our data suggest that betanin, a compound in beet extract, shows some promise as an inhibitor of certain chemical reactions in the brain that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Li-June Ming, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of South Florida, who helped conduct the new study, reports the Medkit.info Website.
“This is just a first step, but we hope that our findings will encourage other scientists to look for structures similar to betanin that could be used to synthesize drugs that could make life a bit easier for those who suffer from this disease.”
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a figure projected to triple by 2050.
Scientists are studing the role of beta-amyloid as a primary culprit in Alzheimer’s that gums up the brain, disrupting communication between brain neurons and leading to memory loss.
The latest study confirms past research by other scientists that suggests that beetroot juice can improve oxygen flow to the aging brain and possibly improve cognitive performance.
In laboratory studies, Ming and his colleagures conducted a series of experiments that found betanin reduced oxidation in the brain, which may help slow the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques.
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