Posted on Jul 25, 2023, 4 p.m.
Including cranberries in your diet may help to improve your memory and brain function while lowering cholesterol levels, according to research from the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the Leiden University Medical Center, the University of Parma, and the Quadram Institute published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
“Dementia is expected to affect around 152 million people by 2050. There is no known cure, so it is crucial that we seek modifiable lifestyle interventions, such as diet, that could help lessen disease risk and burden,” said lead researcher Dr. David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
“Past studies have shown that higher dietary flavonoid intake is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia. And foods rich in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple colour, have been found to improve cognition,” said Vauzour. “Cranberries are rich in these micronutrients and have been recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We wanted to find out more about how cranberries could help reduce age-related neurodegeneration.”
This 12-week study investigated the benefits of consuming the equivalent of one cup of cranberries per day on brain health and cholesterol among 60 cognitively healthy participants between the ages of 50-80 years old. Half of the participants ate freeze-dried cranberry powder and the other half were controls eating a placebo.
According to the researchers consuming the equivalent of one cup of cranberries per day for 12 weeks was found to significantly improve the participant’s memory of everyday events/visual episodic memory, neural functioning, and the delivery of blood to the brain/brain perfusion.
“We found that the participants who consumed the cranberry powder showed significantly improved episodic memory performance in combination with improved circulation of essential nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to important parts of the brain that support cognition – specifically memory consolidation and retrieval,” said Vauzour.
Vauzour continues to say that “The cranberry group also exhibited a significant decrease in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, known to contribute to atherosclerosis – the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery. This supports the idea that cranberries can improve vascular health and may in part contribute to the improvement in brain perfusion and cognition.”
“Demonstrating in humans that cranberry supplementation can improve cognitive performance and identifying some of the mechanisms responsible is an important step for this research field,” explains Vauzour. “The findings of this study are very encouraging, especially considering that a relatively short 12-week cranberry intervention was able to produce significant improvements in memory and neural function,” he adds before concluding that “This establishes an important foundation for future research in the area of cranberries and neurological health.”
The study was supported by a grant from The Cranberry Institute. It was led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands), the University of Parma (Italy), and the Quadram Institute (UK).
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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