Cranberries Just Might Help You to Remember to Eat, Cranberries. According to new research from the University of East Anglia, consuming cranberries may help improve memory and brain function, as well as reduce “bad” cholesterol (UK).
Today’s publication of a new study highlights the neuroprotective properties of cranberries.
The research team investigated the health benefits of 50- to 80-year-olds consuming the equivalent of a cup of cranberries per day.
They hope that their findings could contribute to the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.
Dr. David Vauzour, a researcher at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, stated: “By 2050, it is anticipated that approximately 152 million people will have dementia. There is no known cure, so it is imperative that we seek modifiable lifestyle interventions, such as diet, that can reduce the risk and burden of disease.
“A higher flavonoid intake is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia, according to previous research. And it has been discovered that foods rich in the pigments anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple color, improve cognitive function.
“Cranberries have been recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in these micronutrients.
“We wanted to learn more about how cranberries could help prevent neurodegeneration associated with aging.”
The research team investigated the effects of 12 weeks of cranberry consumption on cognitive function and cholesterol levels in sixty cognitively healthy participants.
The daily consumption of freeze-dried cranberry powder by half of the participants was equivalent to a cup or 100g of fresh cranberries. The remaining group was given a placebo.
The study is one of the first to examine the long-term effects of cranberries on human cognition and brain health.
The results demonstrated that the consumption of cranberries significantly enhanced the participants’ memory of everyday events (visual episodic memory), neural function, and blood flow to the brain (brain perfusion).
Dr Vauzour said: “We discovered that participants who ingested the cranberry powder exhibited significantly enhanced episodic memory performance, as well as enhanced circulation of essential nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to cognition-supporting regions of the brain — particularly memory consolidation and retrieval.
“The cranberry group also demonstrated a significant decrease in LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, which are known to contribute to atherosclerosis — the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by the accumulation of plaque along the inner lining of an artery. This supports the notion that cranberries can improve vascular health and may contribute to enhanced brain perfusion and cognitive function.
“Important steps in this research field include demonstrating in humans that cranberry supplementation can improve cognitive performance and identifying some of the underlying mechanisms.
“The findings of this study are very encouraging, given that a relatively brief 12-week cranberry intervention was able to produce significant improvements in memory and neural function,” he added.
This lays crucial groundwork for future research on cranberries and neurological health.
The research was made possible by a grant from The Cranberry Institute. It was led by the University of East Anglia in conjunction with the Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands), the University of Parma (Italy), and the Quadram Institute (UK).