Is your memory not as razor sharp as it used to be? Most people experience some decline in mental agility as they age. The good news? There may be a way to naturally slow down aging of the brain – by eating two crunchy green vegetables that are already nestled in your vegetable crisper. An intriguing study shows that green peppers and celery contain compounds that reduce brain inflammation, help to sharpen memory, and naturally protect against aging of the brain.
Researchers at the University of Illinois noted that when brain cells were exposed to a chemical called luteolin, found in celery and green peppers, they weren’t able to muster up an inflammatory response. It seems that the luteolin in celery and green peppers blocks the release of a chemical called interleukin-6 or IL-6 – a key chemical involved in inflammation and aging of the brain. Not only does luteolin reduce brain inflammation, it may help to sharpen memory and offset the downward decline in brain function that occurs as people get older.
Luteolin is a flavonoid that has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has positive effects on the immune system. Celery and green peppers are some of the better sources of this natural chemical, but luetolin is also found in thyme, chamomile tea, rosemary, dandelion, oregano, and olive oil. Luteolin may also play a role in preventing certain types of cancer. Studies looking at this possibility are ongoing.
Luteolin found in green peppers and celery could also play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that flavonoids such as luteolin reduce formation of amyloid plaques in the brain which are seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Drugs that reduce amyloid plaques are frequently prescribed to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but they come with side effects. Flavonoids such as luteolin could be a drug-free way to slow down the progression of this incurable neurological disease without the risks of prescription drugs.
Luteolin may also play a role in preventing and treating other diseases associated with brain inflammation and aging of the brain. Of course, this research is only in its infancy, but there are few downsides to adding more luteolin to your diet.
The bottom line? Next time you make a salad, add plenty of chopped celery, green peppers, thyme, oregano and top it off with an olive oil based dressing. Sip some chamomile tea with it for even more brain enhancing power. You’ll get lots of luteolin and flavonoids to keep your brain cells fit.
Mini Rev Med Chem. 9 (1): 31- 59.