August 05, 2006
Apple Juice Improves Brains Of Alzheimer's Mice

Apple juice improved brain function in mice genetically engineered to get Alzheimers Disease.

Animal research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) indicates that apple juice consumption may actually increase the production in the brain of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved memory.

Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine are chemicals released from nerve cells that transmit messages to other nerve cells.  Such communication between nerve cells is vital for good health, not just in the brain, but throughout the body.

“We anticipate that the day may come when foods like apples, apple juice and other apple products are recommended along with the most popular Alzheimer’s medications,” says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., director of the UML Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research.

The study will be published in the August issue of the international Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The abstract is now available online at

I'd like to see experiments like this one repeated with a wider range of fruits and vegetables at a range of doses to identify the foods that deliver the most benefit the least amount of calories consumed. Also, use of quercetin, other flavonoids, and other antioxidants by themselves would help tease out which compounds are delivering the benefits.

In this novel animal study at UML, adult (9-12 months) and old (2-2.5 years) mice, some specially bred to develop Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, were fed three different diets (a standard diet, a nutrient-deficient diet, and a nutrient-deficient diet supplemented with apple components (in this case, apple juice concentrate was added to their drinking water).

Among those fed the apple juice-supplemented diet, the mice showed an increased production of acetylcholine in their brains. Also, after multiple assessments of memory and learning using traditional Y maze tests, researchers found that the mice who consumed the apple juice-supplemented diets performed significantly better on the maze tests.

Diet optimization for aging brains could provide great personal and economic benefits for hundreds of millions of people.

Apple juice provided acetylcholine benefit to both Alzheimer's mice and to aged normal mice.

In fact, the normal adults had the same acetylcholine levels regardless of diet.

However, the genetically engineered mice on the nutrient-poor diet had lower acetylcholine levels. But this drop was prevented in those given apple juice.

In the aged mice on a normal diet, acetylcholine levels were lower than in the normal adult mice; and their levels were even lower if placed on the nutrient-poor diet. But, again, this decline was prevented by the addition of apple juice to drink.

Eat apple sauce with your salmon dinner.

Update: Elderly people in Singapore who occasionally consume curry score higher on a standard test of cognitive function. The turmeric in curry and, in particular, the curcumin in the turmeric might be behind this effect. Those who benefitted did not even have to eat it once a month. Just occasional consumption is enough to produce a measurable benefit.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 August 05 09:17 AM  Brain Alzheimers Disease

Doug said at August 5, 2006 7:53 PM:
Those who benefitted did not even have to eat it once a month. Just occasional consumption is enough to produce a measurable benefit.
Well, eating it very occasionally produced a measurable benefit, which probably means a statistically significant benefit. It seems the more important questions are always what we have to do in order to receive, first, the smallest humanly significant benefit, i.e. one large enough to be humanly noticeable and humanly pleasing; and second, the largest achievable benefit that isn't countered by harm sufficient to make it humanly infeasible.
Lou Pagnucco said at August 6, 2006 7:40 AM:

Regarding the curcumin comment -

One study (see ref below) showed that while a daily low dose of dietary curcumin reduced brain levels of insoluble
beta-amyloid in transgenic mice modelling human Alzheimers, a high dose did not. However, both high and low doses reduced brain level markers of inflammation and oxidation - to a similar degree.

High dose was defined as 5000 ppm, and low dose as 160 ppm.

If we want to extrapolate to a human food consumption of 1 kg/day, then a daily high(low) dose of curcumin would correspond to a supplement of 5g (160 mg).

The reference is:
"The Curry Spice Curcumin Reduces Oxidative Damage and Amyloid Pathology in an Alzheimer Transgenic Mouse"
The Journal of Neuroscience, November 1, 2001, 21(21):8370-8377 - available at URL:

Tom said at August 8, 2006 7:36 AM:

Very interesting.

>If we want to extrapolate to a human food consumption of 1 kg/day, then a daily high(low) dose of curcumin would correspond to a supplement of 5g (160 mg).

What would be the dose if we use curcuma (the whole spice, as I think those people used) and not the active compound curcumin?. Or the 5g are of curcuma?. That would be a teaspoon approx.?

Also, I found this at
Curcumin is poorly absorbed in the intestinal
tract, limiting its therapeutic effectiveness. Oral doses are
largely excreted in feces, and only trace amounts appear in the
blood. Concomitant administration of 20 mg of piperine with 2
grams of curcumin increases the bioavailability of curcumin by
(24. Shoba, G., et al. Influence
of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and
human volunteers. Planta Medica 1998;64(4):353-6.)


Tom said at August 8, 2006 11:55 AM:

The jneurosci article says in India there is less AD, but is this considering life expectancy?

Lou Pagnucco said at August 8, 2006 9:02 PM:


From my quick web search, I find estimates of curcumin content of tumeric spice ranging from 0.2% - 5%.

Assuming a 2% content would mean that the low dose of curcumin would be the equivalent of 50 X 160mg = 8 grams of tumeric.

Given that the high dose was less beneficial, why take it?

Why bother adding piperine?
In the experiment cited, none was used.

Possibly in India, some of the pepper spices enhance curcumin uptake, but is it a good idea to make the gut more permeable to a variety of molecules it is designed to filter out?

Maybe a better idea would be to eat an Indian dish with the usual spices, as well as butter (or some other fat) which will allow for a better absorption.

Beverly said at March 25, 2008 8:33 AM:

Hi I read where HEAT increases curcumin absorption and Absorbic Acid and Quercetin and Isothiocyanates does the same thing also

Tom said at August 18, 2010 2:43 PM:

According to this website (under Turmeric Cost Issues)

"1/2 teaspoon twice daily (total dose 4,000 mg)"

So the 8 gr that Lou calculated = 2 teaspoons

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