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.