(ORDO NEWS) — In addition, adding just 100 grams of cranberries to your diet daily has helped lower bad cholesterol levels.
Adding cranberries to the diet on a regular basis helps improve episodic memory and brain function in people over 50 years of age, as well as reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which increases with metabolic disorders and leads to atherosclerosis.
This conclusion was made by scientists from the Norwich Medical School in the UK, the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and the University of Parma in Italy.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2050, 22 percent of people on our planet will be over 60 years old. This is the result of an increase in life expectancy and, as experts say, an exceptional achievement.
But due to the risk of developing many chronic and degenerative neurological conditions, maintaining a good quality of life is a major challenge.
According to forecasts, the prevalence of the same dementia – acquired dementia – will double every 20 years. The processes leading to cognitive decline and dementia are complex and multifactorial, and as a result, many pharmacological interventions that exist today do not work.
Nevertheless, the challenge remains: we need to find effective solutions as soon as possible to contain the incidence.
In addition to genetic predisposition, numerous environmental factors such as diet , physical activity level , chronic illness , smoking, and other bad habits affect the likelihood of experiencing dementia. However, many of this list – that is, part of the lifestyle – can be changed and thereby reduce the risk of developing typical senile diseases.
According to the authors of the new work, one possible way is to include cranberries ( Vaccinium macrocarpon ) in the diet, which are especially rich in polyphenols – anthocyanins , proanthocyanidins (types A and B), flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids – and are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Previous epidemiological studies have shown that more frequent intake of flavonoids in the diet is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, and foods rich in anthocyanins (responsible for giving red, purple and blue colors to some fruits and vegetables) and proanthocyanidins improve cognitive functions.
Scientists conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which 60 healthy people aged 50-80 years old, including married couples, participated for 12 weeks.
Volunteers were excluded from the sample, who, during a telephone survey, reported excessive consumption of foods rich in flavonoids (not only fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, cocoa, but also tea and coffee). All subjects then underwent several cognitive tests combined with complex biochemical and MRI studies.
After all the checks, one group was given sachets (4.5 grams) of dried cranberry powder: they had to consume two such sachets daily – one in the morning and one in the evening – but not change their usual diet and avoid food supplements or drugs.
The daily dose of cranberry powder was equivalent to one cup or 100 grams of fresh berries. The other group received placebo sachets that tasted like cranberries.
Initially, there were no differences between all volunteers in overall scores on cognitive tests. But after a 12-week experiment, it turned out that daily intake of freeze-dried cranberry extract led to a significant improvement in visual episodic memory scores in parallel with increased perfusion (delivery of blood and nutrients) to key neuronal areas that support cognitive function in older adults.
Working memory and executive functions – a system of high-level processes that allows you to plan actions in accordance with a common goal – while all participants remained unchanged.
“Our results are in direct conflict with a previous clinical study that found no significant changes in memory performance after eating cranberries.
The discrepancy is likely due to the length of time (six weeks vs. 12) cranberries were taken or the composition of the product (cranberry juice vs. freeze-dried whole cranberry powder).
Also, subjects who consumed cranberry powder showed a significant reduction in low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. Moreover, the effects were most pronounced in older men, who experienced a sharp decrease in body weight, glucose levels, blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein.
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