Latest News » Researchers investigate the role of plant sterols in long-term memory support

Plant sterols derived from nuts and seeds may provide memory support.

Plant sterols derived from nuts and seeds may provide memory support.

Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive decline have become some of the leading medical concerns of our time, particularly as the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement age. The Alzheimer's Association states that one in eight senior citizens suffers from this neurodegenerative condition, and as the elderly population swells, the diagnoses are sure to rise as well. With that in mind, researchers have been working feverishly to better understand Alzheimer's disease and how it may be slowed, reversed or even prevented.

Previously on this blog, we've detailed the potential use of curcumin supplements to counter the development of brain plaque linked to this disease. Now, a team of scientists from Saarland University in Germany have begun to explore other natural compounds.

According to a university press release, a certain kind of plant sterol called stigmasterol – a natural steroid compound that plays a similar role to good cholesterol – may be able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

"Stigmasterol has an effect on a variety of molecular processes: it lowers enzyme activity, it inhibits the formation of proteins implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease and it alters the structure of the cell membrane," lead researcher Dr. Marcus Grimm said in the release.

Further research is necessary to confirm this relationship, but it does indicate yet again that compounds found in nature may help us tackle some of the most complex diseases. Plant sterols can be derived from nuts, seeds and plant oils, and can also be found in various food products and dietary supplements.

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