@nalladurai Neuroprotective Potential
Cranberries are particularly rich in (poly)phenols such as anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins (both A- and B-type), flavonols, and hydroxycinnamic acids. These compounds are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and are increasingly recognized for their neuroprotective potential.
High-molecular-weight polyphenols such as proanthocyanidins also affect the gut microbiota and may improve cognition by modulating the gut-brain axis.
In the current study, 60 healthy adults (mean age, 65 years) consumed cranberry powder that was equivalent to 100 g of fresh cranberries or matching placebo for 12 weeks.
Before and after the intervention, all participants underwent a battery of cognitive tests in combination with comprehensive biochemical and neuroimaging assessments.
The total concentration of (poly)phenol metabolites in plasma increased by 1.82 μM in the cranberry group, with no increase observed in the placebo group.
At baseline, there were no significant differences in regional brain perfusion between the cranberry and placebo groups.
Mixed linear modeling controlling for age and education showed an increase in perfusion between baseline and follow-up in the cranberry group compared with a relative decrease in perfusion over time in the placebo group.
In the cranberry group, increased regional perfusion was observed in the right entorhinal cortex, the accumbens area, and the caudate. This was accompanied by significantly improved visual memory, as assessed by delayed recall on the Rey Complex Figure Test (P = .028).
However, the cranberry intervention did not improve other neurocognitive domains, such as working memory and executive functioning.
The cranberry group did show a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels, suggesting that cranberries can improve vascular health and may in part contribute to the improvement in brain perfusion and cognition, the investigators note.
It is currently unknown whether such effect may be translated to a clinical population of cognitively impaired adults in the context of neurodegenerative conditions such as mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
Key Message: Eat Natural Foods
Foods rich in phenolic compounds such as berries and other fruits have been shown to improve memory, especially visual memory.