Sugarcane, commonly grown for the production of sugar, is also a potential source of antioxidants. When harvesting sugarcane, farmers typically discard the green leaves at the top of the plant; however, the top of the plant contains high levels of antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Antioxidants and polyphenols are associated with brain health and can be found in other foods including dark chocolate, nuts, and many fruits. Therefore, scientists used aging mice to determine if extracts made from the sugarcane tops could improve cognition. They found that mice fed the antioxidant-rich extract exhibited significantly improved memory and learning in a maze test. The scientists also examined the effects of the sugarcane extract on cells in a petri dish and found that the extract increased metabolism and growth in brain cells. With additional testing, sugarcane tops may serve as a beneficial supplement to improve cognition in older adults.
Iwata K, et al. Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) top extract ameliorates cognitive decline in senescence model SAMP8 mice: modulation of neural development and energy metabolism. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020;8:573487. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.573487.