Dementia is on the rise in our country and is expected to nearly triple by 2060. More and more research is being conducted on why Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive-related conditions are continuing to grow, and how we might be able to prevent them.
A group of researchers from the University of Delaware recently discovered tart Montmorency cherries possess some powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers to reduce blood pressure, and they decided to put these powers to the test in a new study focused on brain health. It’s important to note this study was supported by The Cherry Research Committee of the Cherry Marketing Institute.
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The researchers found that regularly consuming tart cherry juice may improve one’s cognitive abilities—like improving memory and decision-making skills—compared to not consuming any at all. The researchers attribute this to the fruit’s inflammation- and oxidative stress-fighting properties that can improve blood flow to the brain.
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"Cognitive function is a key determinant of independence and quality of life among older adults," said lead author Sheau Ching Chai in a press release. "The potential beneficial effects of tart cherries may be related to the bioactive compounds they possess, which include polyphenols, anthocyanins and melanin. They may also be related to tart cherry's potential blood-pressure lowering effects, outlined in a previous study we conducted in the same population, as blood pressure can influence blood flow to the brain."
37 healthy participants between the ages of 65-80 were given either tart cherry juice or a placebo beverage to consume twice a day for 12 weeks. They each had to drink an eight-ounce serving—equivalent to one-cup—every morning and every evening. Their subjective memory and cognitive performance levels were assessed before and after the study, and their physical activity levels and daily caloric intakes were monitored throughout the three-month period.
Those who drank the tart cherry juice twice daily showed an increase in satisfaction with their ability to remember things, sharper decision-making skills, and quicker information processing. The authors of this study noted there was a high compliance rate, meaning that making a habit out of drinking tart cherry juice every day is likely a very sustainable lifestyle practice.
The Bottom Line
This is a pretty small study, and its authors note there should be more research conducted with larger sample sizes for longer periods of time. However, there are other studies out there with similar findings, as well as strong associations between tart cherries and anti-inflammatory properties.
We are a big fan of tart cherries—especially in their peak summer season—and have dozens of delicious ways to enjoy them besides drinking a big glass of juice. Check out some of our favorite cherry recipes, like Cherry-Basil Kombucha and Mixed Grain, Cherry, and Snap Pea Salad. Yum!
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