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Blueberries, green tea help to fight Alzheimer's

Blueberries and green tea help the body take an iron hand against diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, research suggests.

Both contain nutrients known as iron chelators which bind tightly to the metallic substance.

Scientists believe poorly bound iron leads to the production of free radical toxins that can cause degenerative diseases.

Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are good sources of iron chelators, as is green tea, say the researchers.

Purple fruits such as blueberries are the best at holding on to iron effectively.



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Professor Douglas Kell, from the University of Manchester, who led the research, reported today: "Much of modern biology has been concerned with the role of different genes in human disease.

"The importance of iron may have been missed because there is no gene for iron as such. What I have highlighted in this work is therefore a crucial area for further investigations, as many simple predictions follow from my analysis."

The effects of iron can lead to potentially harmful confusion about the benefits of some nutrients and vitamins, he argued. For instance, excess levels of vitamin C could be damaging in the presence of poorly bound iron. The vitamin was only effective when iron was safely chelated.

Kieran Breen, director of research at the charity Parkinson's UK, said: "We know that eating a balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables of all colours is important for everybody, not just people with Parkinson's.

"There is also some evidence that too much iron in the brain can cause damage to the dopamine-producing nerve cells that die in Parkinson's, but we don't know why.

"There have also been several studies over the years looking at whether green tea offers neuro-protective benefits. More research needs to be done."

hnews@herald.ie


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