How Cranberries Could Improve Memory, Boost Brain Function and Prevent Dementia

Adding cranberries to your diet may help improve memory and brain function, and lower “bad” cholesterol, according to new research.

Adding cranberries to your diet may help improve your memory and brain function, and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL), according to a new study from the University of East Anglia (UK).

A new study published on May 19, 2022 highlights the neuroprotective potential of cranberries.

The research team studied the benefits of consuming the equivalent of one cup of cranberries per day in people between the ages of 50 and 80. They hope their findings could have implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

Lead researcher Dr David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Dementia is expected to affect around 152 million people by 2050. There is no known cure, so it is crucial that we look for modifiable lifestyle interventions, such as diet, that could help reduce the risk and burden of disease.

“Previous studies have shown that a higher dietary intake of flavonoids is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia. And foods high in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue or purple color, improve cognition.

“Cranberries are rich in these micronutrients and have been recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

“We wanted to learn more about how cranberries might help reduce age-related neurodegeneration.”

The research team studied the impact of consuming cranberries for 12 weeks on brain function and cholesterol in 60 cognitively healthy participants.

Half of the participants consumed freeze-dried cranberry powder daily, the equivalent of one cup or 100 grams of fresh cranberries. The other half consumed a placebo.

The study is one of the first to examine cranberries and their long-term impact on cognition and brain health in humans.

The results showed that cranberry consumption significantly improved participants’ memory of daily events (visual episodic memory), neural functioning, and blood supply to the brain (cerebral perfusion).

Dr Vauzour said: “We found that participants who consumed cranberry powder showed significantly improved episodic memory performance in combination with better movement of essential nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to parts important brain functions that support cognition – especially memory consolidation and retrieval. .

“The cranberry group also showed a significant decrease in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, known to contribute to atherosclerosis – the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of the arteries. an artery. This supports the idea that cranberries may improve vascular health and may in part contribute to improved 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 area of ​​research.

“The results of this study are very encouraging, especially since a relatively short 12-week cranberry intervention was able to produce significant improvements in memory and neural function,” he added.

“This sets an important foundation for future research in the area of ​​cranberries and neurological health.”

Reference: “Chronic consumption of cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) for 12 weeks improves episodic memory and regional cerebral perfusion in healthy older adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study” by Emma Flanagan, Donnie Cameron, Rashed Sobhan, Chloe Wong, Matthew G. Pontifex , Nicole Tosi, Pedro Mena, Daniele Del Rio, Saber Sami, Arjan Narbad, Michael Müller, Michael Hornberger and David Vauzour, May 19, 2022, Nutrition Frontiers.
DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2022.849902

The study was funded by a grant from the Cranberry Institute. It was led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with researchers from Leiden University Medical Center (the Netherlands), the University of Parma (Italy) and the Quadram Institute (UK).

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