Two common organic compounds, including green tea catechins, reduce the formation of Alzheimer’s plaques, a new US study shows.
Good news for green tea lovers: Your daily habit may have already significantly reduced your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts came to this finding after examining 21 different compounds for their ability to inhibit the growth of amyloid beta plaques. These plaques develop in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease – one of the most common causes of death in the Western world
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death in industrialized countries, and experts expect rapid growth in the coming decades. Why the previously incurable disease occurs and what promotes it is still not entirely clear. Scientists are primarily trying to find out what slows down the progression of the disease. For their current study, the researchers selected 21 promising compounds found in foods, among other things. For their tests, the researchers used a 3D model of living human brain cells.
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Two promising anti-Alzheimer compounds from green tea and red wine
Researchers have found that two common compounds—catechins found in green tea and resveratrol, found in red wine, among others—reduce plaque formation. And they did so with little or no side effects, according to a study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.1 An initial screen found that five compounds “had a really strong anti-plaque effect,” according to the study’s abstract. In addition to green tea catechins and resveratrol, these included curcumin from turmeric, the diabetes drug metformin, and a compound called citicoline. The latter is created by the body itself from the nutrient choline and is said to increase brain performance.
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Surprisingly strong effect
“We were hoping to find compounds that are harmless and show some level of efficacy,” explains study leader Dr. Dana Cairns in a university statement.2 Green tea compounds and resveratrol met this standard. “They had a pretty strong impact. After about a week, no more plaques were visible.” Anyone who enthusiastically grabs a bottle of red wine should remember that the alcohol it contains does more harm than resveratrol. If you want to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, green tea is certainly a better choice. That is, unless you choose the non-alcoholic version, which is not to everyone’s taste. Otherwise, it is better to use alternatives such as blueberries, cranberries, peanuts, pistachios and cocoa. They also contain resveratrol.
How green tea can fight Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists suspect that the antioxidant catechins in green tea protect against not only Alzheimer’s disease, but possibly cancer as well. But clear conclusions about people cannot be drawn from laboratory situations. Some compounds do not cross the blood-brain barrier, which would be necessary in Alzheimer’s disease, and others have low bioavailability, meaning they are not easily absorbed into the body or bloodstream. Further research is therefore urgently needed. Still, the discovery is significant because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or a way to stop its progression. “Except for some potential drugs that are still in the testing phase.
- Silveira, IA, Mullis, AS, Cairns, DA, et al. (2022). Screening of Neuroprotective Compounds in Herpes-Induced Alzheimer’s Disease Cell Models and 3D Tissue Models Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
- McNeil, T. (2022). Green tea and resveratrol reduce Alzheimer’s plaques in lab tests. Tufts University (accessed November 14, 2022)