Study under review: Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mildto-moderate dementia
Plant-based foods have been contributing positively to human health since time immemorial. More recently, these health effects have been widely attributed to phytochemicals, a group of non-nutritive bioactive compounds generally found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
In the fields of neuroprotection and cognitive functioning, plants are once again at the forefront of cutting-edge science: flavonoids, a category of phytochemicals, have been associated with improved cognitive function and reduced neurodegenerative decline in old age. In fact, two studies reported that daily consumption of either wild blueberry juice or concord grape juice for 12 weeks led to improvements in verbal learning and memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. A more recent study extended these findings to older adults with no sign of cognitive impairment, reporting that daily consumption of flavanone-rich orange juice for eight weeks seemed to improve overall cognitive performance.
As promising as this sounds, the research is still lacking in individuals that have dementia, a blanket term for various neurodegenerative diseases that are believed to compromise the areas of the brain associated with “higher brain functions,” such as language, memory, learning, and self-awareness. Dementia progresses to the point that the individual eventually finds it difficult to perform day-to-day activities and live independently.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in America. At the time of this writing, approximately 5.3 million Americans live with AD. By 2050, this number is projected to increase to about 15.3 million (almost a 300% increase) as members of the baby boomer generation age. In light of this rapid rise of AD and the lack of effective treatments, it’s important to conduct further studies examining the effect of fruit flavonoids on cognitive function in individuals with AD.
Therefore, the authors of this study sought to analyze the effects of sweet cherry juice, another flavonoid-abundant fruit (primarily through flavonoid subgroup anthocyanins) on the cognitive performance of individuals with mild-to-moderate AD.
Many of the health-conferring effects of plant-based foods may be attributed to their phytochemical content. Fruits rich in flavonoids, a class of phytochemicals, have recently shown promise in improving cognitive function and attenuating neurodegenerative decline. Unfortunately, research on this topic is lacking in people with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in America. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of daily consumption of flavonoid-rich sweet cherry juice for 12 weeks on the cognitive performance of elderly adults with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Other Articles in Issue #15 (January 2016)
DASH plus fat equals ...
The DASH diet is one of the most studied diets of all time, and was specifically formulated to curb chronic disease. But will DASH still do it’s thing if you add extra fat each day?
Wine and dine with diabetes
For some, wine is a daily or weekly indulgence. As those with type 2 diabetes must pay extra attention to the blood sugar and lipid impact of what they consume, this trial puts red and white wine to the test.
Interview: Victoria Prince, MD, PhD
Victoria Prince is passionate about ancestral health and evolutionary medicine, and has a particular interest in dietary fats and the role they play in health and disease, especially liver disease. She writes at principleintopractice.com.
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Cocoa contains high levels of beneficial phytochemicals called “flavanols”, which may provide a variety of health benefits. This randomized trial tested cocoa for the specific purpose of wrinkle reduction and other skin-related improvements.
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With many trials already conducted on the topic of fish oil and depression, the question of overall impact still remained. This is the latest update to the Cochrane systematic review on the topic.
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