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Can supplementation with anthocyanins improve cognitive performance?

Background

Anthocyanins are bioactive compounds exclusively found in plants (and especially in berries) that may be protective against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease.[1]

However, in aging Western populations, the dietary intake of anthocyanins is declining[2] while the risk of neurodegenerative diseases is rising. Consequently, supplementation with anthocyanins (e.g., as berry extracts) could be helpful to sustain or even improve cognitive function. Are the anthocyanins in berry extracts as good as those in unprocessed berries?

The study

This systematic review analyzed 49 randomized controlled trials to examine the effects of anthocyanin supplementation on cognitive performance (18 studies), vascular function, (22 studies), and cardiometabolic risk factors (32 studies).

The results

In both short-term and long-term studies, anthocyanins improved cognitive performance in specific dimensions such as memory and, in some cases, attention and executive function as well. The researchers also found consistent evidence that anthocyanins improved vascular function and blood pressure but not cardiometabolic risk markers.

Note

The included studies differed in the types and doses of anthocyanin supplements. Most studies used berry extracts with doses of 10–500 mg of anthocyanins. Future studies need to assess the safety and efficacy of different types and doses of available anthocyanin supplements.

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