We all know cranberries as these small, round, deep-red berries with a very strong and sour taste. They are more commonly enjoyed dried or juiced rather than being eaten raw. Similar to strawberries, they grow on vine-like plants, and are harvested between September and November.
But have you ever wondered that cranberries can help improve memory and brain function? According to a new research, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition, regular consumption of cranberries for 12 weeks significantly improved the memory of everyday events (visual episodic memory) of the participants, which ranged from 50 to 80-year-olds. It also bettered their neural functioning and delivery of blood to the brain (brain perfusion).
Apart from the neuroprotective potential of cranberries leading to improvement in overall memory and brain function, there was a significant decrease in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. LDL is known to thicken the arteries and contribute to atherosclerosis as plaque gets built up in the inner lining of an artery.
Hence, the researchers at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom who contributed to the published study, assert cranberries can improve vascular health, leading to a brain perfusion and cognition. In fact, they believe the findings can have implications for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.
Also, read: Going bananas over cranberries can help your heart health, says study
“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,” said lead researcher Dr David Vauzour, in the study. It is the higher dietary flavonoid intake with cranberries that can slow down cognitive decline and dementia. The anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins present in the berries, which give them their red, blue, or purple colour, are also known to improve cognition.
Here are some benefits of eating cranberries for overall health:
1. Rich in antioxidant compounds
Since cranberries contain plant compounds with a protective antioxidant effect, they are highly beneficial for the body. Since most of them are found in the skin of the berry, do not use juice them if you want to retain the antioxidant compounds
2. Help prevent urinary tract infections
Cranberry or its juice is known for effective management of the urinary tract infections (UTIs). With their active compounds known as proanthocyanidins, cranberries have natural antibacterial benefits. It prevents the bacteria Escherichia coli from attaching to the bladder and urinary tract’s inner surface, which is the main reason behind the infection.
3. Support heart health
As mentioned, cranberries lead to cholesterol balance but lower blood pressure. It also reduces a compound called homocysteine, which actually damages the inner lining of the blood vessels.
4. May protect against gastric ulcer and stomach cancer
Cranberries can reduce the risk of gastric ulcers and stomach cancer, which is triggered by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
5. May protect against certain cancers
Cranberries, one of the best food sources of ursolic acid, also have potential anti-cancer effects. It is usually beneficial in prostate cancer prevention.