Issue: # 17

August 2011


Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo with HealthCare Insights, LLC


Hello All

We hope that you are well and enjoying your summer as it draws to a close. Hopefully many of you have had a wonderful vacation somewhere warm and sunny. Maybe you’ve even found some new and exciting ways to stay brain healthy.  Before fall arrives, we can start putting those brain healthy ideas into practice.  When your brain is healthy you will notice a difference in how focused and functional you are, even in the early morning.


In the articles below we will show you more about potent foods to help keep your brain healthy.



Acknowledgements: Thanks to special summer help from two amazing Acton-Boxborough rising seniors, Jennifer Rogan and Eric Tseng, who have been working with me this summer to explore more about brain and body healthy foods, especially herbs and spices. Jenny has been compiling descriptions of special herbs and spices which eventually we’ll be able to share with our clients and readers.

Eric Tseng helped me draft the lead article and extract information from recent scientific research articles cited here. He and I share a common goal of reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s in people world-wide including us and our families. I am including his advice to readers in his own voice.


And as always a heartfelt thanks to the amazing Samantha Turner, my right hand person, who ensures the newsletters become reality.  She is our Constant Contact and website guru who adds everyone’s email whose requested to be on our email list, drafts the overall look of the newsletter, the introduction and closing, the events lists on both the website and newsletter, gets all the articles into the electronic form and finds fun photographs to spice up the look. Samantha also does internet research as needed.  You should look her up in her “day” job especially if you love horses and dogs the way Sam does.


HCI consulting nutritionist Cheryl Franchi, RD, helps make sure our content is accurate from a nutritionist point of view.  I also rely on Eric Reardon’s nutritional wisdom and creativity…and check out article #3 below. Our wonderful nutrition intern, Kristina Scangas has been busy on other endeavors this summer and hopefully will return to helping us find and develop brain healthy recipes–especially those with vegetables made even more delicious by the addition of spices and herbs!



Cinnamon: How Does This Delicious Spice Help Preserve Our Brains & Bodies?

How Cinnamon Can Help Prevent Beta-Amyloid From Harming Our Brains © 2011 Nancy B. Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D.



Introduction: beta-amyloid (Aβ)’s role in Alzheimer’s disease and the brain

As many of our readers may know, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder with an unclear cause and no cure. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, disorientation, and loss of language skills.

Even though scientists and researches have not devised a notable cure for this disease, they are making great progress, especially over the past thirty years. Furthermore, the exact causes and pathways of developing Alzheimer’s are still unknown, and therapeutic treatments are limited in effectiveness and time. However, experts have identified that beta-amyloid polypeptide (Aβ), a protein, plays a key role in Alzheimer disease pathology.

Although scientists agree that beta-amyloid plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, it is widely debated how prominent an effect it has. Some scientists believe that the “tau” pathology related to tangles is more important, especially to development of cognitive problems in AD.   Still others point out that co-morbid vascular lesions are more important than beta-amyloid in determining the degree of dementia and speed of onset of symptoms[1]  Other scientists suggest that abnormal Aβ arises secondary to other basic body/brain conditions such as oxidative stress [2]and inflammation, overlaid on what happens with aging.[3]

The real question is, when and how is beta-amyloid toxic?

When Dr. Alzheimer described the disease now bearing his name  in 1907, he mentioned two pathologies, plaques and tangles. We now understand these “plaques” to be large deposits of clumps of beta-amyloid. The high visibility of the plaques led scientists to initially believe they were the toxic form of Aβ.   Thus treatments were sought to eliminate these plaques, and to slow down the development of beta-amyloid. However, later scientists discovered that the real problem lay with an earlier stage assembly (“clumping”) of beta-amyloid.

It is now believed that plaque deposits aren’t responsible for killing brain cells. Instead, what kills brain cells is an accumulation of soluble oligomeric assemblies (small “clumps”), of beta-amyloid. In fact, large amounts of soluble oligomeric beta-amyloid are correlated with impaired cognitive function in mice bred to have AD pathology (“transgenic AD mice”). Moreover, we’ve discovered that small amounts of beta-amyloid are normal for humans.


So, if we all have some beta-amyloid in our bodies and brains, what is it there for?

Recent studies have shown that in small amounts and in single molecules (called “monomers”), beta-amyloid is normal and beneficial for the brain. It functions in the innate immune system, killing unfriendly microbes such as bacteria, fungi and other “invaders”. There is also evidence that monomers of beta-amyloid may help brain cell synapses function at a more effective level. “At physiological levels, amyloid beta is a normal, soluble product of neuronal metabolism that regulates synaptic function beginning early in life. Monomeric amyloid beta 40 and 42 are the predominant forms required for synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival….. Both aging and (excess, oligomerized) beta amyloid independently decrease neuronal plasticity.” [4]

Since this simple form of beta-amyloid may have a normal and crucial role in our bodies, treatment to remove all of it could backfire and cause other health problems.

While several factors play a role in treatment, therapeutic strategies for beta-amyloid have shown promising results. Scientists have identified that one promising therapeutic strategy is limiting the early stages of beta-amyloid oligomerization, as well as to limit excess production of beta-amyloid.


How can we target beta-amyloid ourselves through lifestyle?

First, we can try to eat foods and do other healthy activities that help lower the amount of excess beta-amyloid, as the excess itself encourages the oligomerization and clumping together that leads to the toxic forms.  And second, some foods have already been identified that inhibit the process of oligomerization itself.


Eating foods rich in anti-oxidants is a great way to reduce beta-amyloid amounts.

Every anti-oxidant food tested to date (for example spinach, strawberries, blueberries, turmeric, melatonin and many others) lowers the amount of beta-amyloid in the brain of AD mice, and also reduces inflammation in the body and brain. Even the only two nuts tested (to date) in AD mice lower the amount of beta-amyloid (almonds and walnuts…see out October 2010 Newsletter).Nuts not only reduce beta-amyloid, they are also full of important healthy fats and other nutrients that lower cholesterol, help blood sugar control, and helped the AD mice tested think better.

In addition, physical exercise also decreases the amount of beta-amyloid, while reducing inflammation in the body and brain as well.


Two foods identified to date that inhibit oligomerization of beta-amyloid and improve cognitive performance of AD transgenic mice: Cinnamon and Grape seeds


Cinnamon extract may prevent oligomerization to toxic forms of beta amyloid.


Research conducted by an Israeli scientific group reported that cinnamon extract inhibits the formation of toxic beta-amyloid (Aβ) oligomers and prevents the toxicity of Aβ on neuronal cells. The water soluble portion of cinnamon extract from cassias cinnamon bark was used. Results showed an inhibition of oligomer formation, and an increase in the relative amount of monomers, the normal and helpful form of beta-amyloid.[5]

When this cinnamon extract was tested on flies bred to have AD pathology, the results showed that the AD flies had increased longevity to normal length, and had fully recovered their locomotion defects and reduced dramatically the toxic type of Aβ oligomers (tetrameric species and others) in their brain. A parallel experiment showed similar results in AD mice, and mice cognition also reportedly improved (but the Israeli researchers used a weak test of mouse cognition according to other AD mouse researchers). Israeli scientists also reported that cinnamon extract also prevented fibrilization of Aβ (relevant to several neurodegenerative disorders).

The Israeli study suggests that cinnamon extract is an important inhibitor of both oligomerization and fibrilization of Aβ. The amount of cinnamon ingested by the mice was not precisely measured or reported. Thus, for humans, the equivalent amount of cinnamon is unclear, based on limited information available in the published article. This study will need to be replicated by more careful experiments in mice, then tested in humans before we can get overly excited.  Meanwhile it does add another good reason to several others (see below) to eat our daily teaspoon of cinnamon!


Grape seed phenols also inhibits beta-amyloid oligomerization.

Here is a case in point about the benefits of a variety of foods and potential for other foods once studied to be shown to inhibit oligomerization of beta amyloid

Grape phenols in grape seeds also inhibit beta-amyloid oligomerization and improve cognition in AD transgenic mice.[6] Of course our modern day irony is we have eliminated seeds from most grapes sold as food in the US just as nutrition science is showing innumerable benefits of them, now generally available only in supplements.


In what other ways does cinnamon help us? Cinnamon, like many other herbs and spices, is a potent anti-oxidant and is anti-inflammatory as well.  Its ORAC value per 100 grams is a huge 131,420, which translates to about 1445 ORAC units per teaspoon, the same amount as in about 3 ½ oz (just under ¼ cup) of blueberries (See article on antioxidants). Human clinical studies with cassias cinnamon reported that cinnamon can help with blood sugar control, and lower cholesterol. A randomized controlled study several years ago showed that a modest amount of cinnamon lowered people’s cholesterol by an average of 8%.[7] 1/2-1 tsp of regular ground cinnamon is the recommended amount.  Use the Cassias type of cinnamon, either Chinese or Vietnamese (also called “Saigon cinnamon”) as the research was done on this type of cinnamon.  Other cinnamons come from different tree types (e.g. Korintje from Indonesia) and may also be helpful, but no research has been reported on them.

Other studies show that cinnamon has potent anti-microbial properties and kills many species of meat-spoiling bacteria. Cinnamon is also over 50% fiber and helps add a little to our daily fiber intake.

Furthermore, recent studies have shown that cinnamon has unique healing abilities due to various components such as cinnamaldehyde.(Cinnamaldehyde is an essential oil, the organic compound that gives cinnamon its characteristic flavor and odor; comprises about 2% of the bark.) Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for some of cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory action as it inhibits nitric oxide. [8] But that same component consumed in very large amounts may overtax our livers. Thus it is recommended that adults do not exceed 10 grams (3 teaspoons) of cinnamon per day. Up to that amount is perfectly safe and healthy.

But as we know, the health and well being of our bodies is only maintained through a variety of factors, not just a diet high in anti-oxidants, spices and herbs. One reason that the MPN™ recommends a variety of foods is that our brains and body appear to require a large variety of nutrients, many of which are not yet named or understood. Another reason is that some foods that have excellent health benefits may become unhealthy in excessive quantities.

Cinnamon can also be easily used in everyday dining and cooking. It can be used as ground cinnamon (which is naturally “raw”) in coffee, tea, and apple juice, as well as a variety of baked goods and all sorts of apple products. Coffee lovers have discovered that a few shakes of cinnamon removes the bitter/astringent flavors and for many, takes the place of both cream and sugar.  Cinnamon is an excellent flavor enhancer and used in smaller quantities will surprise you and others with how it brings out other delicious flavors (superior to salt and MSG as a flavor enhancer, cinnamon has no health drawbacks!).   Cinnamon has been used for this reason by Greek cooks for centuries in their marinara sauces to take the acidic edge off tomatoes (no sugar please!) Cinnamon is one of the “Chinese 5 Spices” and a constant ingredient in all curries.

Eric Tseng, a high school senior at Acton Boxborough shares his advice: “Keep in mind, however, that relying on just cinnamon to improve your health will not work. While cinnamon is a brain healthy ingredient, it is just as important to exercise, eat more plant foods in general, and to avoid processed and sugary foods. Therefore, cinnamon rolls packed with processed sugar is NOT an option for a cinnamon resource! However, there are healthier and heartier recipes for cinnamon rolls that taste just as good, if not better” e.g. using non-sugar natural sweeteners such as stevia or erythritol…see our website (April 2010 Newsletter).

In closing, it is important not to think of any particular single food as a “magic” bullet to keep us healthy.  “Food is medicine” covers a vast variety of foods. Nutrients often work together with synergistic effects; hence the preference for “whole foods” or supplements based on (nearly) whole food extracts.

What other spices can help make our brains healthier?  Read article #4 on Other Spices to broaden your knowledge about the variety of herbs and spices that can help us keep our brains and body healthy. ALL OF THE ENDNOTES FOR THIS ARTICLE ARE AT THE END OF ARTICLE #4 on Other Brain Healthy Spices


Spices and Herbs have Star Power for Brain and Body Health © 2011 Nancy Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D.

The more I learn about the nutritional content and value of herbs and spices, the more I am confirmed in placing them front and center in the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program.  Not only have some spices when  researched been discovered to have specific value to help prevent cognitive decline, but most of them (all those studied to date!) have multiple health benefits….ranging from anti-microbial action, to anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action, and even as a source of fiber and scarce nutrients. Moreover because herbs and spices add such wonderful flavors to food, we can bear to part with excess salt, saturated fats and sugar!

One prominent reason for health benefits of herbs and spices is their anti-oxidant potency.  Oxidative stress has been identified not only as one of the key risk factors for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (and probably a prominent factor in the causal chain of events), but many other chronic diseases of the brain and body. Oxidative stress arises both from the pollutants and toxins in our environment, but also as a natural by-product of breathing oxygen. As we age our bodies are under increasing stress from “free radicals” -our very DNA is under attack — and anti-oxidants from our food is the best way to combat them. We need more and more as we get older, and low-caloric, nutrient intense sources are desirable.  Herbs and spices are the stars.  And some whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils are also very high in anti-oxidants with the various sorghum grains the most potent.


Eric Reardon’s article helps lay the background of why anti-oxidants are important to health, and how “ORAC” (Oxygen Radical Absorbance)

ratings can guide our selection of foods.  Compare his list of high ORAC value fruits and vegetables with those in my next article about spices and herb’s ORAC values.  Mr. Reardon agrees that spices and herbs can indeed help us all achieve the goal of 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day; for instance, just one teaspoon of cinnamon can supply over 1,400 of these ORAC units!


   Antioxidants, ORAC and Your Health by Eric Reardon, MS, CNC, Certified Nutritionist
       July issue of Crossroads to Health Newsletter

Reprinted with permission from author. 


Please note that I have replaced Mr. Reardon’s listing of ORAC values with an updated table and figures. It turns out the method of determining ORAC values in the lab changed dramatically in the middle of the last decade, and current “new” values are often much higher than the older reports. Nutrition scientists are still learning just how ORAC values relate to actual biological anti-oxidant action in our brains and bodies. Some areas of agreement are that raw foods have higher ORAC values and probably thus higher anti-oxidant potential per gram; and that steamed or pressure cooked vegetables retain more anti-oxidants than boiled. However cooked vegetables can be consumed in greater volume than raw, and key for an individual is the form that they find palatable or accessible so they will and can actually eat the food!

Also, keep in mind when reviewing the ORAC table below, that some fruits and vegetables with lower ORAC values (per 100 grams) may be low because they contain a lot of water (good for us!) and normally be consumed in larger quantities. They may also contain especially important nutrients related to their particular color, such as lutein and zanthenin (critical for eye health) in corn, peas and zucchini as well as in kale, turnip and collard greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach. 

and lycopene in watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes….especially cooked and concentrated tomato products such as juice, sauce and even catsup. This is just a reminder that ORAC values are not the only way to determine the value of a whole food.  NEL


‘Every second, each of our cells are bombarded with thousands of attacking free radicals. The damage these free radicals inflict underlies many of the chronic diseases associated with aging, such as cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease. Scientists believe that a crucial way to protect the brain and body against the effects of disease provoking free radicals is to increase the consumption of foods possessing high ORAC values.


Stop and think for a second. What are you most concerned with when it comes to foods? Fat grams in a particular product? The amount of calories it contains? What is most important especially in the long run is the ORAC value of foods.


ORAC means oxygen radical absorbance capacity and serves as a measure of the antioxidant value of a food. The higher the ORAC value, the greater the ability to disarm dangerous free radicals.


Scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture[i] now advise consuming between 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units each day in order to maintain optimal antioxidant protection in the body’s tissues and plasma. Yet even those who consume five daily servings of typical fruits and vegetables typically only obtain about 2,000 ORAC units each day. The reason that many health-conscious adults fail to obtain sufficient antioxidant protection is that the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables contain only modest antioxidant protection. In order to meet the USDA’s ORAC recommendations, it is necessary to consume nutritional powerhouses like darkly colored berries. Simply adding 1/2 cup of blueberries to the diet provides a powerful 4,670 ORAC units (nearly twice that if they are wild). Other richly colored fruits and berries such as blackberries, raspberries, plums, and prunes also provide dramatic antioxidant protection for the entire body.”

Below is a list of antioxidant rich foods as measured by the ORAC value per 100 grams (approx. 3.5 ounces for many foods containing water; volume of dried foods can vary considerably as shown in HCI’s table for spices and herbs).


TOP ANTIOXIDANT Fruits and Vegetables[ii] & a few nuts selected and assembled by Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo(c) 2011  [ORAC* units per 100 grams**]

FRUITS                                                                VEGETABLES


Raspberries, black  19,220

Raisons, golden seedless 10,450

Prunes, dried 8,059

Cabbage, Red, raw  2,496

Cabbage, Savoy, boiled 2, 050

Cabbage, Green, boiled 856

Blueberries, wild, raw 9,621

Blueberries, cultivated, raw 4,669

Artichokes, boiled or microwaved 6,000-9,000

Pistacio nuts, raw 7,957

Plums, raw 6,100

Blackberries, raw 5,904

Raspberries, raw 5,065

Strawberries 4,302

Raisins, regular seedless 3,406

Cherries, sweet, raw 3,747

Peanuts, all types, raw 3,166

Nuts, other various raw 1400- 2,000

Lettuce, Red leaf, raw 2,426

Lettuce, Green Leaf, raw 1,532

Lettuce, Boston, bibb types, raw 1,423

Lettuce, Romaine or cos, raw 1,011

Black beans, boiled 2,249

Cauliflower, purple, raw 2, 084

Sweet potato, baked in skin 2,115

Sweet potatoe, boiled, no skin 766

Broccoli, boiled 2160

Broccoli, raw 1,510 (less dense)

Beet greens, raw 1,946

Avocados, Hass, raw 1922

Arugula, raw 1904

Apples, Red Delicious, raw w skin 4,275

Apples, Granny Smith, raw w skin 3,898

Apples, various others 2,500-3,000

Applesauce, unsweetened, canned 1965


Pears, green, raw 2,200

Oranges, raw 2,100

Peaches, raw 1922

Grapes, red, raw 1837


Grapes, black, raw 1746

Grapefruit, all colors,raw 1,548


Beet greens, raw 1,946

Avocados, Hass, raw 1922

Arugula, raw 1904

Beets, raw 1,776

Kale 1,770

Radishes, raw 1750

Popcorn airpopped 1743

Asparagus, boiled 1644

Spinach, frozen, unprepared 1,687

Spinach, raw 1,513

Pomegranate (juice) 2,681

Red Table Wine 2,400-2,700

Concord grape juice 2,389

Cranberry juice, unsweetened 1,480

Acai juice blends 1767

Green tea, fresh brewed 1,253

Potatoes, Russett, baked w skin 1680

Potatoes, Red, baked w skin 1,326

Potatoes, White baked w skin 1,138

Onions, Red, Raw 1,521

Onions, Yellow, sauteed 1,220

Onioins, Yellow, raw 863

Guavas, common, raw 1,422

Lemons, raw, without peel 1,346

Mangoes, raw 1300

Apricots, raw 1100

Grapes, white or green, raw 1,018

Bell pepper, yellow, raw 1,043

Bell pepper, green, raw 935

Bell pepper, red, raw 821

Eggplant, raw with skin 932

  Beans, snap, green, raw 799
Corn, sweet, raw 728

Cauliflower, boiled 739

Carrots, raw 697

Tomato sauce, canned 694

Tomato, plum, raw 546

Mushrooms, various, raw 600-800

White grape juice 793

Orange Juice700- 726

Green Tea, ready to drink, canned 520

Apple juice, canned, unsweetened 414

Bananas, raw 795

Pineapple, raw 385

Cantaloupe, raw 319

Honeydew melon, raw 253

Cranberry juice 232

Watermelon, raw 142


Peas, frozen, unprepared 600

Celery, raw 552

Cabbage, Green, raw 529

Corn, frozen, cut, unprepared 522

Tomato juice, canned 486

Lettuce, Iceberg, raw 438

Winter squashes & pumpkins, raw 400-500

Tomatoes other than plum, average 387

Carrots, boiled 326

Eggplant boiled, 245

Squash, summer yellow and zucchini, 180

Cucumber, raw, with peel 232

Cucumber, raw, peeled 140


* Oxygen Radical Absorbance – updated to the post 2007 ORAC values


“Richly colored fruits and vegetables provide the most abundant sources of disease preventative compounds. By regularly consuming these nutritional powerhouses you can help guard your cells against the daily onslaught of free radicals and fortify your body’s defenses against ailments ranging from cancer and cardiovascular disease to cognitive decline and macular degeneration. So the next time you think about a particular food don’t just think about fat grams and calories, think about ORAC and nutrient density.”




Eric Reardon MS, CNC operates Crossroads To Health, a unique nutrition consulting company dedicated to maximizing health and performance naturally. Eric works with clients on a range of health concerns including weight management, digestive care, hormone imbalances, blood sugar regulation, ADD/ADHD, mood disorders and more. For more information on Crossroads To Health and services provided visit or call 978-551-1321.

[i]James A. Joseph,  Ronald L. Prior, Guohua Cao, and Barbara Shukitt-Hale at Boston’s own Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University  is the source of these recommendations.  See “Can Foods Forestall Aging?”          Agricultural Research Magazine, Feb. 1999, Vol 47, No. 2

Note: Tragically James Joseph, the innovative leader of many of these ground-breaking studies, died in 2009.
[ii]SOURCE for ORAC values of 100 grams each food:USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 – Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – May 2010




Which Other Spice Help Make Brains Healthier? 

© 2011 Nancy Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D.

All herbs and spices have high ORAC values and will likely reduce excessive levels of Aβ /beta-amyloid. (See next article LINK) Future studies may show that additional herbs or spices other than cinnamon will also prevent oligomerization and fibrilization of Aβ.


Ginger has a myriad of health benefits. It can help with stomach aches and inflammation of the joints. In addition, it is anti-microbial and anti-viral, keeping our immune systems strong and ready to fight off disease and bacteria.

Another brain healthy spice is turmeric, which is a potent antioxidant and very anti-inflammatory. It also helps insulin efficiency and lowers LDL cholesterol.  Alzheimer’s researchers have shown that curcumin, a prominent ingredient in turmeric, lowers beta-amyloid in AD transgenic mice and slows cognitive impairment. [9], [10]


Many other spices are anti-inflammatory, help lower cholesterol, and/or help our glucose metabolism. Some examples include green tea and oregano. Others such as gingko biloba (leaves) improve blood flow, and some lower blood pressure, such as parsley.  Next month we’ll share with you a summary of pilot randomized clinical trials of sage, lemon balm, and saffron with people with early AD.



[1] Monique Breteler (2011) The Relationship between Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia   Invited plenary presentation at the 26th Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, Toronto, Canada.

[2] Perry G, Castellani RJ, Hirai K and Smith MA  (1998) Reactive Oxygen Species Mediate Cellular Damage in Alzheimer Disease.  J of Alzh D, 1(1):45-55

[3] Herrup K (2010) Reimagining Alzheimer’s Disease-An Age-Based Hypothesis.  J Neuroscience, 30(50):16755-16762

[4] Mordhwaj S Parihar1 and Brewer GJ (2010) Amyloid Beta as a Modulator of Synaptic Plasticity  J  Alzheimers Dis.; 22(3): 741-763. doi:  10.3233/JAD-2010-2010 January 1 101020 PMCID: PMC3079354 NIHMSID: NIHMS262844

[5] Frydman-Marom A, Levin A, Farfara D, Benromano T, Scherzer-Attali1,

Peled S, Vassar R, Segal D, Gazit E, Frenkel D, Ovadia M. (2011) Orally Administrated Cinnamon Extract Reduces b-Amyloid Oligomerization and Corrects Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer’s Disease Animal Models  Tel Aviv University. (on-line) Jan 2011:6(1) e16564

[6] Wang J, Ho L, Zhao W, Ono K, Rosenweig C, Chen L, Humala N, Teplow DB, Pasinetti GM (2008) Grape-derived polyphenolics prevent AB oligomerization and attenuate cognitive deterioration in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Neurosci. 28, 6388-6992.

[7] Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA (2003) Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 26: 3215-3218.

[8]Lee SH, Lee SY, Son DJ, et al.(2005)  Inhibitory effect of 2′-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in RAW 264.7 cells. Biochem Pharmacol . 2005;69(5):791-799.

[9] Lim GP, Chu T, Yang F, Beech W, Frautschy SA, Cole GM. (2001) The curry spice curcumin reduces oxidative damage and amyloid pathology in an Alzheimer transgenic mouse. J Neurosci 2001;21  (21):8370-7. [PubMed: 11606625]

[10] Ringman JM Frautschy SA Cole GM , Masterman DL and Cummings JL  (2005) A Potential Role of the Curry Spice Curcumin in Alzheimer’s Disease,  Curr Alzheimer Res. 2(2): 131-136.




ORAC and Anti-oxidant Values of Spices and Herbs (and Chocolate!)  © 2011 Nancy Emerson Lombardo
Spices and herbs have startling high ORAC values per 100 grams.  Because of their intensity of flavor, the usual serving size however is 1 teaspoon or less for ground spices and dried herbs, and 1-2 Tablespoons for fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, coriander/cilantro, and garlic and fresh spices such as ginger.


The table below shows a selection of popular herbs and spices, and to put in perspective, ORAC values for a few  vegetables, fruits, grains.


A special note for chocolate lovers!

Chocolate lovers take heart:   Pure cocoa powder has a very high ORAC value per 100 grams; this is cut in half when cocoa powder is processed to make the dark chocolates we know and love.    But the ORAC value of many dark chocolates are still very high.   Select dark chocolates which are made with at least 70% cocoa powder–these are healthy for our brains and bodies, eaten in moderation of course.  At or above the 70% cocoa powder mark, dark chocolate will help you lower blood sugar and cholesterol, even if the other 30% is sugar and more cocoa butter.  Try to avoid chocolates containing milk as not only would these tend to have cholesterol from milk fats but more importantly tend to have had much of the anti-oxidant nutrients removed from the chocolate..

SPICES AND HERBS  © 2011 ORAC per 100 gms ORAC per 1 tsp ORAC/ 1 TBsp # tsp per 100 grams
Cloves, ground




Oregano, dried




Rosemary, dried




Thyme, dried




Cinnamon, ground




Turmeric, ground




Sage, ground


Parsley, dried




Nutmeg, ground

69, 640


Basil, dried

61, 063

Cocoa, dry powder unsweetened

55, 653





Ginger, ground

39, 041

Pepper, black

34, 053

Sage, fresh

32, 004

Mustard seed ground, yellow

29, 257



Rice bran, crude

24, 287

Chili powder

23, 636



Nuts, pecans

17, 940


Ginger root, raw

14, 840




Peppermint, fresh


Oregano, fresh


Nuts,walnuts English



Raisins, golden seedless


Garlic powder


Lemon balm, leaves raw

5, 997

Coriander (cilantro) leaves raw

5, 141

Basil, fresh


Blueberries, raw


Nuts, almonds


Dill weed, fresh


Beans, black, boiled


Avocados, Hass, raw


Potatoes, red, flesh and skin, baked


Parsley, raw  1 spring=1 gram





Tea, green, brewed




SOURCE for ORAC values of 100 grams each food:  USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 – Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – May 2010

Note: Number of teaspoons/100 gram and calculations of ORAC units per teaspoon or tablespoon collected/calculated by Nancy B. Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D. and HCI team













© 2011 NEL


It’s important for us to eat healthy and avoid the sugary, processed foods the American food industry provides for us. While tempting, the consequences of having such a diet will impact our health in the future, leading to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. For example, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined white grains & other refined starches produce a spike in blood sugar & aggravate inflammation (AJCN 2008). Excess sugar increases our chances of heart disease; it even doubles your chance of having a heart attack. In addition, excess sugar increases insulin resistance, and challenges blood sugar metabolism and shrinks hippocampus (Convit, A, NYU, 2000-2010).[i] , [ii]  The amount of shrinkage is correlated with levels of HbA1c.

However, there is good news. In today’s market, several brands of natural, non-sugar sweeteners are available. For more information go to my website.

Lastly, the consequences on high sugar intake on brain health are shocking and should be noted. Researchers conducted a pre-clinical trial with transgenic mice bred to develop AD pathology.  Two equivalent groups of mice were fed the same healthy mouse chow except that one (control group) was given pure water to drink as much as they wanted, and the other group was given only water containing 10% sugar (sucrose). After 6 months, the AD transgenic mice fed the diet high in sugar showed dramatically increased impairment in memory and spatial learning. There was also a 3-fold increase in the amount of beta-amyloid in their brains. Just adding the sugar caused the mice to develop abnormally high LDL cholesterol as well as unhealthy insulin resistance and weight gain.[iii]

Eric Tseng advises our readers: “Next time you sink your teeth into a slice of cake or open a bottle of soda, think about how you can limit your sugar intake to improve your health. It is far better to eat healthier and to live a longer, pain free life. Diet is one aspect of our lives we can control. Once a disease such as Alzheimer’s hits us, there is no way of curing it as of now, so do what you can to eat right and exercise!”

Coming next month:

Next month we’ll add more to the evidence for my Memory Preservation Nutrition® program by sharing with you Suzanne Craft’s ground breaking clinical trial showing convincingly the negative impact of high glycemic index, high saturated food diets on the human brain and positive impact of low glycemic index, low saturated food diets.[iv]


[i] Starr VL and Convit A.(2007) Diabetes, Sugar-Coated but Harmful to the Brain Curr Opin Pharmacol 7 (6): 638-642.

[ii] Convit A, Wolf OT, Tarshish C, deLeon MJ (2003) Reduced glucose tolerance is associated with poor memory performance and hippocampal atrophy among normal elderly  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS 100:(4),  2019-2022.

[iii] Cao D, Lu H, Lewis TL, Li L.  (2007) Intake of sucrose-sweetened water induces insulin resistance and exacerbates memory deficits and amyloidosis in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer disease.J Biol Chem, 282(50):36275-82. Epub 2007 Oct 17.

[iv] Bayer-Carter JL, Suzanne Craft (2011) Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment, Archives of Neurology, 68(6):743-752.


Public invited to presentations by Dr.
Emerson Lombardo on Aug 20th and Sept 8th, 19th, 20th, and 30th. 
See Dr. Emerson Lombardo in Person

August 20th, 2011: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Brain
This free event will be held at Castle Island, inside Fort Independence, 2010 William Day Boulevard, South Boston MA 02127. This event will start at 10:00am and is a featured part of a 60-minute meeting of the Castle Island Association. The Compass on the Bay is sponsoring Dr. Emerson Lombardo’s presentation.  Check out the events page at

September 8th, 2011:  Brain Healthy Nutrition
This free event will be held at the Andover Senior Center, 36 Bartlet Street (Rear of town offices, Whittier Court), Andover MA 01810. This event will run from 1:30-3:00pm.  It is co-sponsored by Methuen Village Assisted Living and the Andover Senior Center.  Check out the events page at

September 19th, 201 FREE CEU EVENT: Healthy Living for a Healthy Brain: How Lifestyle can Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease 
This free event will be held at the Sherborn Town Hall, (Selectman’s Room) 19 Washington St, Sherborn MA 01770.  This event runs from 8:30-10:00am. A light breakfast will be provided.  CEU’s will be provided for nurses, social workers, and caregivers. Please RSVP by emailing or calling 508-651-7858.  Sponsored by SLR’s Compass program at Golden Pond in Hopkinton. Check out the events page at

Sept 20th, 2011: FREE CEU Brain Healthy Nutrition This free event will be held at Salem Haven Nursing Home, 23 Geremonty Drive, Salem, MA 03079.  This event will run from 8:00-9:00am. Light refreshments will be served.  This will be a free CEU Power point presentation on brain healthy nutrition and will be sponsored by Methuen Village Assisted Living Community.  Call Salem Haven at (603) 893-5586  to register.


Sept 20th, 2011: FREE CEU Brain Healthy Nutrition This free event will be held at Lawrence Hospital in Lawrence. This event will run from 12 to 1 pm. Light refreshments will be served. This will be a free CEU power point presentation on brain healthy nutrition and will be sponsored by Methuen Village Assisted Living Community. Call Methuen Village and ask for Lauriann to register. 1-978-685-2220.


Sept 30, 2011: Fall Meeting of CT-CHCC and CNC. This one-day conference for nutritionists runs 7:45 am regristration, program 8:30 am sharp to 3:00 pm. and is held at the lovely Water’s Edge Resort and Spa, 1525 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, CT 06498. (860-399-5901) CEU credits for RDs, DTRs, and dietary/food services managers.

Dr. Emerson Lombardo will present on her Brain Healthy Nutrition -Evidence Based Recommendations from 10:30 to noon in plenary session.  Call Dorothy LaGrua, President, to register, at 860-669-2823.  Mail $85 registration fee PAYABLE ATO CT-DHCC and mail to Becky Iselin, 94 Cedar Lake Road, Chester, CT 06412. Email questions to


Nancy is available to answer your questions via e-mail or telephone.  

Look for her monthly column in the South Shore Senior News!

For brain health consultations for yourself, your family, or your organization contact Nancy for further information or to book an appointment. 978-621-1926 or email at


Nancy Emerson Lombardo, PhD
HealthCare Insights, LLC
P.O. Box 2683 , Acton , MA 01720

© 2011 HCI




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