OJ, berries, and peppers are all healthy sources of vitamin C. But a relatively obscure “superfruit” — packed with up to 100 times the vitamin C of an orange and plucked from remote desert obscurity — is now available to Americans this winter to help fight colds and flu.
An important bonus: The world’s best source of vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, new research shows.
The fruit, the sour-tasting kakadu plum, grows wild in northwestern Australia’s desert country. Isolated aboriginal communities have used it as a medicine for many centuries.
“If you take it to prevent the severity of colds and flu it may well stop you getting Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Ralph Martins, head of the aging and Alzheimer’s disease center with Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.
Dr. Martins explains that a spate of scientific research has found that foods and supplements with high levels of vitamin C have strong antioxidant powers that may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and make cold and flu infections shorter and milder.
In addition to kakadu, other foods shown to make winter ailments less severe — and potentially stave off dementia — include blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, ginseng, guavaa, kale, mushrooms, papaya, and the Asian curry spice turmeric (specifically its curcumin component).
Plants that struggle in harsh, arid conditions often have high levels of vitamin C or other antioxidants that help the plants survive in tough environments, Dr. Martins tells Newsmax Health.
“But none comes close to the kakadu plum,” he adds. “It’s a miracle fruit.”
Blueberries are very rich in vitamin C but, in Dr. Martins view: “Kakadu plums blow blueberries out of the water.”
Dr. Martins’ research has been published in major medical journals. His latest work is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, published by the Alzheimer’s Association.
He is also about to begin a major research project aimed at determining how effectively Kakadu plums prevent Alzheimer’s.
“Not all Kakadu plums are the same,” he explains. “Another example I can think of is ginseng (a popular health supplement). Some ginseng has higher antioxidant levels than other ginseng.
“Levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants vary, so check recommended dosages on containers.”
Fresh Kakadu plums are difficult to obtain. But Kakadu plum juice, powder, and puree are stocked by many American health food stores and are available online.
Kakadu plums are sometimes sold as Gubinge, their name in the ancient aboriginal language called Nyal Nyal.
Most are harvested in the wild but several small plantations have sprung up.
Alzheimer's caused by a build-up in the brain of a sticky substance, beta amyloid, which is “to Alzheimer's as cholesterol is to heart disease,” Dr Martins observes.
In his lab, his team has found that Vitamin C antioxidants kill beta amyloid cells.
What’s more, studies have determined Mediterranean diets — rich in vegetables (including legumes such as beans and peas), olive oil, and fish — lower beta amyloid levels and keep them down. Research has also shown high cholesterol can boost the risk for dementia.
"Anything raising cholesterol increases beta amyloids in the brain," Dr. Martins explains.
Western diets add to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s for the one in five adults who are genetically predisposed to developing the the disease, which strikes about 5 million Americans.
That’s why taking action against colds and flu this winter may help you stay physically healthy in the short term, but can also help you maintain your mental edge in the long run and reduce the risk of experiencing the horror of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Martins says.
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