Cranberries May Help Improve Memory and Guard Against Dementia

Cranberries are filled with antioxidants, and research has shown that they may help prevent urinary tract infections, reduce inflammation, and maintain digestive health. A new study finds that their benefits may extend to the brain.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom investigated how eating cranberries each day impacted the health of 50- to 80-year-olds. According to findings published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, the fruit improved memory and brain function in participants. The team hopes this could be a possible tool in helping to prevent dementia.


Dr. David Vauzour, lead researcher and senior research fellow in molecular nutrition at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, says, “Dementia is expected to affect around 152 million people by 2050. There is no known cure, so it is crucial that we seek modifiable lifestyle interventions, such as diet, that could help lessen disease risk and burden.

“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.”

He explains that cranberries are packed with these micronutrients, so his team decided to investigate the fruit’s impacts on aging-related neurodegeneration.


To do so, the researchers had 30 cognitively healthy older adults consume a cup’s worth of freeze-dried cranberry powder, while 30 consumed a placebo. Throughout the process, participants’ brain function and cholesterol were tracked.

After 12 weeks, the team found that those in the cranberry powder group had significant improvements in their memory of every day events, neural functioning, and delivery of blood to the brain. They also had marked decreases in their levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. The team says because heart health is linked with brain health, that may have also contributed to the better brain function.

The researchers hope others can build on their study in the near future.

Dr. Vauzour explains, “Demonstrating in humans that cranberry supplementation can improve cognitive performance and identifying some of the mechanisms responsible is an important step for this research field.


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

To read more about their results, click here.

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