Saturday, November 17, 2007

Neuroprotection From Rosemary

A study published in the October 2007 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience. and a study published online November 8 in the Journal of Neurochemistry, show that carnosic acid (CA), the active ingredient in the herb rosemary, activates a novel signaling pathway that protects brain cells from the free radical damage associated with stroke and other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

CA from rosemary is proving to be neuroprotective, without producing the serious adverse effects characteristic of so many drugs used to treat neurodegenerative disease.

Rosemary has been used since the Middle Ages to treat disorders of the nervous system and to ward off sickness. However, the exact chemical pathways by which it works have, until now, been unknown.

Can you think of anything better than roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic? If only someone would produce a low glycemic index potato!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Caper Magic

Capers may explain one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.

A number of new studies strongly suggest that the flowering buds of Capparis Spinosa L (capers) have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values, as well as diuretic and antihypertensive effects in certain pathological conditions related to uncontrolled lipid peroxidation.

An October 2007 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found an increasing body of evidence that suggests capers have the antioxidant ability to inhibit a large amount of lipid oxidation associated with gastric digestion, particularly with meat.

A study published in Life Science found that capers contain flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin derivatives) and hydrocinammic acids with very high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

The Life Science study also observed that caper consumption could counteract the harmful effects induced by the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 and 6.

Since capers have also been suggested to have a chondroprotective effect, they might be used in the management of cartilage damage during the inflammatory process associated with arthritis.

And, you regular martini drinkers might want to consider replacing your olive with a large caper berry.

Addendum: The United States Department of Agriculture just last week published an updated list of ORAC values for over 277 food items. The newer list is more accurate because lipophilic values were included for the first time. The new data shows that all plants have variable amounts of both lipophilic and hydrophilic phytochemicals that contribute to total ORAC.