A new study by a research team at the University of East Anglia (UK) highlights the neuroprotective potential of cranberries.
The research team studied the benefits of consuming the equivalent of a cup of cranberries a day among 50 to 80-year-olds.
They hope that 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, “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.
“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.”
The research studied the impact of eating cranberries for 12 weeks on brain function and cholesterol among 60 cognitively healthy participants.
Half of the participants consumed freeze-dried cranberry powder, equivalent to a cup or 100g of fresh cranberries, daily. 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.
While this was a small study, the results showed that consuming cranberries improved the participants’ memory of everyday events (visual episodic memory), neural functioning and delivery of blood to the brain (brain perfusion).
Dr Vauzour reports 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.
“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 added.
The research 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).
‘Chronic consumption of Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) for 12 weeks improves episodic memory and regional brain perfusion in healthy older adults: A randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel-groups study’ was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition on May 19, 2022.
Source » University of East Anglia