Cranberries and Dementia

Cranberries and Dementia

Who would ever think that a debilitating disease would have a connection to cranberries. Tart-sweet orbs of red that most stay away from unless mixing with vodka. Turns out that these little berries each hold a powerhouse of healing compounds that have been used, for centuries, to treat a number of health compromises.

Recent research seems to have stumbled upon yet another fantastic benefit of incorporating this fruit into your diet. It seems that cranberries and dementia may be a good fit when it comes to prevention and possibly even acute treatment.

Cognitive Findings

As published in the Frontiers journal, a study of the use of cranberries and potential effects on brain function over a three month period was a combined effort by researchers from Norwich Medical School, UK; Department of Radiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands; Human Nutrition Unit, University of Parma, Italy; and Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich Research Park, UK.

This list of researchers is shown to indicate the contiuing concerted collaboration in the race to prevent, and maybe even one day stop, cognitive decline.

The study stated that,

“….sustained intake of cranberry over a 12-week period produced significant improvements in memory and neural function in older adults who were cognitively healthy.”

The recommended dose of daily cranberries is one small cup.

Dr David Vauzour, who is the lead researcher at Norwich Medical School, commented to Frontiers stating that,

“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.”

It’s All In The Color

Cranberries are jam packed with two significant compounds believed to be the driving force in priming the brain to be able to protect itself from dementia progression.These two compounds are known as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins which are members of the photochemical family (chemicals found in plants). These particular phytochemicals are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors of fruits and cranberries are very potent.

According to Dr. Vauzour who also commented to Science Daily,

“The findings of this study are very encouraging, especially considering that a relatively short 12-week cranberry intervention was able to produce significant improvements in memory and neural function,” 

If you want to avoid cognitive decline a small cup of cranberries per day seems to be a good move. However, getting a cup of cranberries per day can sometimes be a challenge. There are several different options you can choose to get as many cranberries into your system on a daily basis. 

Let the Color In

Here are some ideas and recipes to hit the ground running when it comes to optimal cranberry consumption.

  • Powder supplement – In the study mentioned above cranberry powder was used. This can be found online or in a health food store. It is easy to add to water or smoothies for a tasty treat.
  • Capsule supplement – Cranberry can also be taken as a capsule supplement right alongside your vitamin C and other daily doses.

Some nice cranberry recipes to try are: 

Best Ever Cranberry Sauce


¾ cup sugar

½ cup orange juice

½ cup water

12 oz fresh cranberries rinsed and picked through

pinch of salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 piece of orange peel just use a potato peel or paring knife


  • Combine sugar, orange juice, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
  • Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • Continue cooking, for about 10 minutes, or until all or most of the cranberries have popped. I like to leave a handful of berries whole.
  • Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

*Recipe courtesy of Mom Timeout

Healing Cranberry Smoothie


1/2 cup water

1 cup whole cranberries

2 oranges, peeled

1 banana, frozen

1–2 tablespoons maple syrup


  • Place the ingredients into a high powered blender, like in the order listed: water, cranberries, oranges and banana.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy. If desired, add in 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

*Recipe courtesy of Delish Knowledge

Give cranberries a try to support your future cognitive health and remain independent as long as you can.