Currently, there is no cure for dementia, a neurological disease that is predicted to impact around 152 million people by 2050. However, the good news is that research by England's University of East Anglia has highlighted a simple way to fight the neurological disease, through eating cranberries.
“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 color, have been found to improve cognition,” explains lead researcher Dr. David 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.”
The researchers tracked the brain function of 60 cognitively healthy participants over 12 weeks. Half of the group consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh cranberries daily, while the other half took a placebo.
Impressively over this short period, the memory of everyday events, neural functioning, and delivery of blood to the brain were all improved in the participants who consumed the cranberries. “We found that the participants who consumed the cranberry powder showed significantly improved episodic memory performance in combination with an 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 said.
In further good news, the researchers also found that eating cranberries also decreased the amount of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in circulation. “This supports the idea that cranberries can improve vascular health and may in part contribute to the improvement in brain perfusion and cognition,” says Vauzour.
The group hopes this research establishes a foundation for the future of research in using cranberries to improve neurological health.
Foods That Reduce Risk of Neurodegeneration: Scientists have found correlations between certain diets and decreased likelihood of neurocognitive decline. Two particular diets - the Mediterranean Diet and the MIND Diet, which are meant to specifically slow down neurodegeneration - are known to be helpful for their emphasis on these four key foods. More...