Saturday, July 13, 2013 by: PF Louis

Welcome to the "People's Farmacy." No prescription needed. More proof that food is medicine.

Do you want to maintain or increase your mind power despite aging? Here are a few proven brain boosting nutrient dense fruits that may surprise you.

An apple a day is actually a good idea

An apple a day keeps Alzheimer's and memory loss at bay. Apples especially when eaten raw boost brain function. According to a 2004 study from Cornell University, apples are rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from tissue destroying oxidative stress.

The researchers exposed clusters of isolated rat brain cells in petri dishes to various concentrations of either quercetin or vitamin C. These cells were then doused with hydrogen peroxide to simulate oxidative stress.

A separate group of isolated rat brain cells was exposed to hydrogen peroxide without prior antioxidant treatment.

The cells that were treated with quercetin had significantly less oxidative damage compared to the untreated cells and even the vitamin C treated cells. The researchers concluded that quercetin offered superior protection against neurotoxicity.

An earlier University of Philadelphia study (2000) was the first to link degenerative diseases of the nervous system like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's to oxidative damage to a protein in nerve cells.

Quercetin is found mostly in the skin of apples. Red apples contain the most quercetin. If you're concerned about memory loss and other degenerative brain diseases or just want to protect and even boost your memory, organic apples should be on your shopping list.

Caveat: Conventionally grown apples topped 2013 Environmental Working Group's (EWG) 2013 "Dirty Dozen" list of pesticide laden fruits and vegetables. Conventionally grown apples are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residues. Eat only organically grown apples.

Blueberries are brain food

Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls blueberries "brainberries". Research indicates blueberries protect the brain from oxidative stress and thus the effects of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease or dementia.

In one study, aging rats were fed blueberries and then given memory tests. The older rats that were fed blueberries performed as well as younger rats that were not fed blueberries. The phytochemical anthocyanin improves memory and mental fluidity.

Anthocyanins are powerful flavonoids found in the skin of dark, whole plant foods and are high in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.

Anthocyanins are readily absorbed into the bloodstream and easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Then they penetrate a region of the brain known as the striatum, a hub of memory and motor function.

The striatum is of special concern to those afflicted with Parkinson's disease. A diet rich in blueberries has demonstrated protection against brain cell loss, memory deficits, learning ability, and motor coordination.

Blueberries also stimulate the growth of new nerve cells and facilitate better communication between nerve cells via a process known as transduction.

Avocados newly recognized health benefits

Yes, avocado is technically a fruit, and they're almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health, according to nutrition expert Steven Pratt, MD.

Neuroscientist Daniel G. Amen, author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, says avocados are one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

Avocados are high in vitamin E, B vitamins, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which contribute to brain health.

The journal Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders reported that high doses of vitamin E reverses memory loss in Alzheimer's patients, slows the progression of the disease, and can even reverse the symptoms of early stage Alzheimer's.

Avocados are also rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid that's needed to create and maintain myelin, the tissue surrounding nerves that protect neurotransmitters and expedite neurotransmissions.

Abundant healthy myelin is necessary for the speedy information flow between neurons. In fact, myelin enables information to travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Neurons without myelin communicate at a much slower speeds.

The white matter of the brain is loaded with myelin. Smooth and fast transport of information is essential to learning and optimal cognitive functioning. So quit counting calories, ignore avocados' old bad press, and enjoy them.