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Binge on broccoli to boost the brain

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LONDON, Sept 27 (AFP) - Eating certain fruit and vegetables could boost the memory, particularly broccoli, according to British research to be revealed on Tuesday.

The research provides scientific backing to the theory and has major implications for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said.

Extracts found in five fruits and vegetables -- broccoli, potatoes, oranges, apples and radishes -- were found to contain substances that act in the same way as drugs used to treat the disease. Broccoli had the most.

The study by King's College London, part of the University of London, was to be presented on Tuesday at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, northern England.

Alzheimer's, for which there is no cure, is the most common form of dementia among older people. It seriously affects their ability to carry out daily activities, impairing parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.

Most of the drugs used to treat the disease act as inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

It has been previously suggested that some common vegetables might have anti-acetylcholinesterase activity, but no detailed investigation has ever been carried out. The King's College London research confirms this activity in all five of the fruit and vegetables.

Broccoli was found to have the most potent activity and was taken forward for further tests to identify the agent responsible.

These were found to be glucosinolates, a group of compounds found throughout the cabbage family.

"As yet, it is unproven that eating broccoli, for instance, would have a beneficial effect on Alzheimer's disease," said professor Peter Houghton, from King's College London.

"But the long-term effects of regularly consuming these compounds in vegetables belonging to the brassicaceae (cabbage family) might certainly be beneficial in reducing a decline in acetylcholine levels in the central nervous system."

"This is the first report that glucosinolates have acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties."



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