31 Mar More Tea Please...

By Lisa V. Bunce, MS, RDN

How do Tea, Grapes, and Red Wine Help Delay the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease?

These foods contain the compound resveratrol, part of a group of compounds called polyphenols thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage.  The neuroprotective benefit may aid the regions of the brain responsible for memory and early onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.

While the specific cause of the disease is still unknown, research is showing it is related to specific changes in the chemical activity in certain regions of the brain.


Prevention or delaying onset of Alzheimer’s is a focus of research: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a Mediterranean-type diet, keeping glucose levels (blood sugar) in check, and using alcohol in moderation.   In two recent studies, findings suggest that the compound resveratrol, which is found in tea, red grapes and red wine, is showing great promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  White wine is usually made without the grape skin included and so has lower levels of resveratrol.

  • A recent study in the Journal of Gerontology, showed resveratrol preserves muscle fibers as we age and helps to protect the connection between neurons called synapses from the negative effects of aging.   This is important because these synapses are used in voluntary movements and relay motor commands that flow from neurons in the spinal cord to our muscles.   This translates into maintaining our balance, gait and motor coordination, thereby minimizing lack of mobility, accidents, and loss of quality of life.
  • A University of California study found ‘significant changes’ within six months of eating a handful of grapes twice a day.  Researchers concluded that grapes may help to support brain health by reducing oxidative stress, promoting healthy blood flow and maintaining levels of key brain chemicals that promote memory.
  • A study of elderly Chinese, conducted at National University of Singapore, found drinking black (such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey), green and oolong tea reduces the risk of cognitive impairment in older people by 50% and those at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s Disease by 85%.

So, brewing some tea, eating a couple of handful of grapes, and sipping red wine may be one simple way to alter your diet to reduce the risk of developing neurocognitive disorders later in life.

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