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Cranberries improve cognition and lower harmful cholesterol: Study

by Pragati Singh

The recent research from the University of East Anglia (UK) has revealed that cranberries have neuroprotective properties and that include them in one’s diet can dramatically improve memory and lower harmful cholesterol.

The study looked at the health advantages of eating a cup of cranberries per day in people aged 50 to 80. They anticipate that their results would help in the prevention of neurodegenerative illnesses like dementia.

“Dementia is anticipated to afflict about 152 million individuals by 2050,” stated lead researcher Dr David Vauzour of UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

Because there is no known treatment, it is critical that we pursue modifiable lifestyle measures, such as food, to reduce disease risk and burden.

“Previous research has linked increased dietary flavonoid consumption to slower rates of cognitive deterioration and dementia. Furthermore, diets high in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple colour, have been shown to benefit cognition.

“Cranberries are high in these micronutrients and have been linked to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities.

“We wanted to learn more about how cranberries may aid in the prevention of age-related neurodegeneration.”

The study looked at how consuming cranberries for 12 weeks affected brain function and cholesterol in 60 cognitively healthy people.

Half of the participants ingested freeze-dried cranberry powder on a daily basis, which was comparable to a cup or 100g of fresh cranberries. The other half was given a placebo.

This is one of the first studies to look into cranberries and their long-term effects on cognition and brain health in people.

Cranberries dramatically enhanced participants’ recollection of ordinary experiences (visual episodic memory), neuronal functioning, and blood transport to the brain, according to the findings (brain perfusion).

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Dr. Vauzour stated: “Participants who consumed the cranberry powder demonstrated significantly improved episodic memory performance, as well as improved circulation of essential nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to important parts of the brain that support cognition – specifically memory consolidation and retrieval.

“The cranberry group also showed a substantial reduction in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, which are known to contribute to atherosclerosis, which is the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.”

This lends credence to the notion that cranberries might enhance vascular health and, as a result, may contribute to improvements in brain perfusion and cognition.

“Demonstrating in people that cranberry supplementation may improve cognitive function and understanding some of the processes involved is a critical step in this study field.”

“The outcomes of this study are really encouraging,” he noted, “particularly given that a very brief 12-week cranberry intervention was able to elicit considerable changes in memory and brain function.”

“This lays a solid platform for future study into cranberries and brain health.”

The Cranberry Institute provided funding for the study. It was directed by the University of East Anglia in partnership with academics from the Netherlands’ Leiden University Medical Center, Italy’s University of Parma, and the Quadram Institute (UK).

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