Recent research from the University of East Anglia in the UK brings exciting news about the health benefits of cranberries.
Their study, focusing on the 50 to 80-year-old age group, reveals that cranberries could play a significant role in improving memory, brain function, and lowering bad cholesterol levels.
The study, published today, sheds light on cranberries’ potential to protect the brain.
With dementia expected to affect around 152 million people globally by 2050, and no known cure, the research team, led by Dr. David Vauzour from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, emphasizes the importance of finding lifestyle changes, like diet, to reduce the risk of such diseases.
Previous studies have highlighted the benefits of a diet high in flavonoids – natural substances found in plants, fruits, and vegetables – for slowing cognitive decline.
Berries, particularly those rich in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give them their vibrant colors, are known for their cognitive benefits.
Cranberries, packed with these micronutrients, are also recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The research aimed to explore how cranberries could combat age-related brain degeneration.
In the study, 60 cognitively healthy participants were divided into two groups. One group consumed freeze-dried cranberry powder daily, equivalent to a cup (100g) of fresh cranberries, while the other group took a placebo.
This 12-week study is among the first to explore the long-term effects of cranberries on human brain health and cognition.
The findings were remarkable. Participants who consumed cranberries showed significant improvements in memory related to daily activities, better brain function, and increased blood flow to the brain.
This enhancement in blood circulation aids in delivering essential nutrients like oxygen and glucose, crucial for supporting cognitive processes, particularly memory consolidation and retrieval.
Moreover, the study discovered a notable decrease in LDL cholesterol, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, in the cranberry group. High levels of LDL cholesterol are linked to atherosclerosis, a condition where arteries harden due to plaque buildup.
This decrease in bad cholesterol underscores cranberries’ role in improving vascular health, which in turn, supports brain health.
Dr. Vauzour highlighted the significance of these findings, particularly as the improvements in memory and neural function were observed after just a 12-week intervention with cranberries.
This research lays a strong foundation for future investigations into cranberries and their impact on neurological health, offering a promising natural option for enhancing brain function and managing cholesterol levels.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Omega-3 fats and carotenoid supplements could improve memory.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
The research findings can be found in Frontiers in Nutrition.
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