Study points to tart cherry juice for better senior brain function

August 5, 2019

Mental acuity is a good indicator of senior cognitive performance, but not much is done to actively maintain it. American researchers from the University of Delaware (UD), Newark, have recently found that Montmorency tart cherry juice may help seniors in this aspect, due to “bioactive compounds” that occur naturally in the cherries – Montmorency tart cherries are a common variety of cherries grown in the US.

Of the 34 healthy volunteers aged 65 to 73 years old, the test group was required to consume 16oz (480ml) of the tart cherry juice daily, for 12 weeks, while the dummy group consumed a placebo drink. During the trial, these volunteers had to maintain their usual diet and physical activity, but none of the volunteers were on medications that might alter brain function.

At the end of the study period, in an episodic visual memory task designed to assess visual memory/new learning, the UD researchers noticed a 23% reduction in errors by the subjects who drank the cherry juice. In contrast, members of the dummy group showed little, if any, improvement in that same task. The cherry juice drinkers also reported a 5% increase in satisfaction with their recall ability; a 4% reduction in movement time in response to visual stimuli; a 3% improvement in visual sustained attention; and an 18% reduction in errors while performing a spatial working memory task, typically used to assess memory and strategy.

Asst. Professor Sheau Ching Chai, who wrote a paper on the findings, suspects that the potential beneficial effects of tart cherries may lie in their polyphenol-, anthocyanin- and melanin- content. He further stresses tart cherry’s potential blood-pressure lowering effects – observed in the same subjects – as blood pressure easily influences blood flow to the brain.

However, the researchers admit a larger and longer trial is necessary to confirm the beneficial effects of drinking tart cherry juice.


Category: Education, Features

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