May 18, 2008
‘Superfood’ celery combats brain diseases
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor
Celery may not only be good for diets but also help safeguard mental health. Researchers have found that it generates compounds that can fight Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.
The compounds luteolin and diosmin appear to block the inflammation that causes the brains of victims to start shrinking and dying. In animal experiments they reduced the levels of amyloid beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.
The chemicals belong to a group of plant-based compounds known as flavonoids. “Luteolin and diosmin could be used in purified form as therapeutic agents,” said Dr Terrence
Town of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. “The compounds have few side effects and are available as dietary supplements.”
Any finding that celery may slow the progress of brain diseases could push it into the “superfood” bracket along with green peppers, camomile and other green vegetables that contain similar chemicals.
Town emphasised that research was in its early stages and based on animal experiments. His study used mice genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s. Progress of the disease slowed sharply in animals given diosmin.
Dr Susanne Sorensen, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We know a healthy balanced diet can reduce dementia risk. This work reinforces the need to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.”
Treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly urgent. There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, at least 15,000 of whom are under 65, and some in their forties.