For brain health, don't miss out on red cabbage! In fact, this precious vegetable counteracts neuroinflammation and age-related cognitive decline. What has been reported emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by a Chinese team (Zhang et al, J Agric Food Chem, Oct 2023).
Red cabbage for brain health, the study
The study took place in the laboratory and focused on a population of elderly mice. For 3 months, the mice took an extract containing antioxidants from red cabbage, among which anthocyanins stand out. What emerged is that the extracts made it possible to reduce age-related cognitive impairment. Not only that, it was possible to observe a reduction in brain damage at the hippocampus level, which is one of the first brain areas affected by cognitive decline. Scientists have also managed to understand the neuroprotective mechanism. In particular, the antioxidants in red cabbage reduced free radical damage in the brain. In fact, after three months of treatment, the mice who had taken the extracts had an almost 30% increase in the superoxide dismutase enzyme, which protects tissues from free radical damage, and an almost 16% reduction in malondialdehyde, which is one of the products of oxidative stress and is therefore considered an indicator of the presence of free radicals. Also noteworthy is the action of red cabbage extracts on the intestinal microbiota. In fact, antioxidants have favored the proliferation of good bacteria producing short-chain fatty acids with anti-inflammatory action. This led to a reduction in inflammation in the brain.
The study has limitations. In fact, at the moment, the research has only been performed on mice and therefore further work will have to be carried out to verify that what has been observed can also be recorded in humans. In any case, the study has the merit of reminding us that it is important to include red cabbage in our daily diet, which is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and prebiotic vegetable, useful for promoting the growth of good intestinal bacteria. These good bacteria release anti-inflammatory substances that are also beneficial for the brain, since the gut and brain are intimately connected. Red cabbage can be sliced finely and added to salads or enjoyed on its own, as a healthy and colorful side dish.