Daily glass of pomegranate juice combats forgetfulness

If your memory is starting to fade as you age, a daily glass of pomegranate juice can help. Neurologists at the University of California in Los Angeles were able to see on MRI scans that pomegranate juice improves the parts of the brain involved in the process of memory

If your memory is starting to fade as you age, a daily glass of pomegranate juice can help. Neurologists at the University of California in Los Angeles were able to see on MRI scans that pomegranate juice improves the cooperation between parts of the brain involved in the process of memory.

Over half of the inhabitants of developed countries have less than optimal levels of vitamin D in their bodies. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that their health is compromised as a result. In theory supplements containing vitamin D can help, but many studies show that these hardly raise the vitamin D level at all.


Pomegranates contain substances that improve the functioning of the blood vessels. This is why pomegranate may help improve memory function in the elderly. As we age the blood vessels in the brain clog up and reduce the functioning of our memory. Pomegranate may help combat this.

The researchers tested this theory in an experiment involving 28 forgetful volunteers with an average age of 62-63. Half of them were given a flavoured soft drink containing no active ingredients [Placebo] for four weeks; the others were given a large glass of pomegranate juice [PJ].

The concentration of urolithin-A in the blood of the latter group rose. Urolithin-A is a metabolite of ellagic acid, of which large amounts are found in pomegranate, produced by bacteria in the gut.

Before [Time 1] and after [Time 2] the supplementation period the researchers assessed the subjects’ memory. They did this by first reading a list of word pairs to the subjects. Then they read the first part of each pair and asked the subjects if they could recall the second part.

The figure below shows that the pomegranate supplementation increased the number of words that the subjects could remember.


During the memory test the researchers also did MRI scans of the subjects’ brains, which resulted in the scans reproduced below.

These show the brain activity at the end of the supplementation period, when the subjects were digging in their memory. In the pomegranate group the basal ganglia, the thalamus and the hippocampus were active. This was not the case for the placebo group.


The leader of the research team receives money from Pom Wonderful, a pomegranate juice producer. [pomwonderful.com] The study reviewed here, however, was funded by the university where the researchers work.

Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints.

Bookheimer SY, Renner BA, Ekstrom A, Li Z, Henning SM, Brown JA, Jones M, Moody T, Small GW.


Center for Cognitive Neurosciences, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA ; Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, and the UCLA Longevity Center, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Despite increasing emphasis on the potential of dietary antioxidants in preventing memory loss and on diet as a precursor of neurological health, rigorous studies investigating the cognitive effects of foods and their components are rare. Recent animal studies have reported memory and other cognitive benefits of polyphenols, found abundantly in pomegranate juice. We performed a preliminary, placebo-controlled randomized trial of pomegranate juice in older subjects with age-associated memory complaints using memory testing and functional brain activation (fMRI) as outcome measures. Thirty-two subjects (28 completers) were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for 4 weeks. Subjects received memory testing, fMRI scans during cognitive tasks, and blood draws for peripheral biomarkers before and after the intervention. Investigators and subjects were all blind to group membership. After 4 weeks, only the pomegranate group showed a significant improvement in the Buschke selective reminding test of verbal memory and a significant increase in plasma trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and urolithin A-glucuronide. Furthermore, compared to the placebo group, the pomegranate group had increased fMRI activity during verbal and visual memory tasks. While preliminary, these results suggest a role for pomegranate juice in augmenting memory function through task-related increases in functional brain activity.

PMID: 23970941 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3736548

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23970941

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